The Government of Ghana will soon issue a Biometric Passport to the citizenry as required by the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO).
The Minister of Foreign Affairs Alhaji Muhammed Mumuni said this would enhance the efficient management of the country’s border posts and ports of entry and strengthen the overall capability of the security services in confronting the menace of illicit trafficking in narcotics, small arms, human trafficking and terrorism within Ghana’s borders and beyond.
According to the Minister he has instructed all Ghana Missions abroad to cease forthwith the issuance of non-machine readable passports and send all pending applications to Accra for processing.
He added: “Three Missions in Europe and one in the America have been selected initially to be equipped with facilities for capturing the bio data of applicants for processing and issuing to be done in Accra”.
He said the old and new passports regimes will run concurrently until November 2015 when the old passport will be phased out. Alhaji Mumuni said only those in possession of hand-written passports were obliged to change them by April 1, 2010.
With the launch of the new passport regime, Ghana has become the ninth ECOWAS State to issue Biometric Passports as they joined Nigeria, Niger, Guinea, Senegal, Cote d’lvoire, Liberia, Benin and Togo.
A Ghanaian company, Buck Press Limited, has been contracted to produce the passport booklets and also set up the Passport Application Centres (PACs).
Under the arrangements, Ecobank, the National Investment Bank, the Ghana Commercial Bank and the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) would sell the passport application forms until such time that selected Ghana Post offices would be included.
A Mobile Passport Application Centre has also been set up to facilitate the applications of physically challenged persons in various institutions.
Meanwhile, the Ghana Immigration Service is working with its partners to install new scanning machines for the Biometric Passports at the airports and other ports of entry into the country.