Rwanda has finally adhered to a directive by East African Community heads of state in March 2016 to adopt the new generation passports and phase out old national documents, set to be phased out by June 2021. At the EAC Heads of State Summit, it was directed that the issuance of e-passports be done at the same time in all member states, with a one-year phase-out of the national and Community passports.
The country now follows in the footsteps of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania who have already issued the electronic passport to their citizens. The rolling out of the electronic passport is to facilitate faster border clearance, which is part of the wider regional strategy to enhance integration. Issuance of the ordinary passport has been stopped and the residents can now apply for new travel document online a move which is expected to boost the performance of Rwanda’s travel documents.
The e-passport is embedded with a machine-readable computer chip which contains the holder’s biometric information on a tamper-proof page and has been touted as a major step in curbing fraud and easing clearance at international airports where e-readers are installed.
“The launch of the new East Africa electronic passport fulfils the vision set by the EAC heads of state and is in compliance with specifications for the security, design and issuance of machine-readable travel documents by the International Civil Aviation Organization,” said Rwanda’s Director General of Emigration and Immigration.
In terms of charges, the e-passport costs a few more bucks than the ordinary passport. For an electronic passport that expires in five years, it costs about $82, compared to the $55 for the old passports, while a 10-year electronic passport costs $110.
Kenyan passport was ranked the most powerful in the region, at position 72 globally, followed by Tanzania’s at 73, Uganda’s at position 76, Rwanda’s at 84, Burundi 92 and South Sudan’s at 97 according to Henley Passport Index 2019.