Maria Amakali Windhoek-Namibia will as of today (Monday) only issue biometric passports, or otherwise known as electronic passports, instead of the old machine-readable passports. According to the announcement by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration on Friday the move comes as a result of Namibia obliging the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to make the switch to biometric passports. The Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration’s director for immigration and border control, Nehemia Nghishekwa, said that biometric passports are highly secure travel documents with a chip, which enhances security and makes it very hard to forge. “There have been attempts in the past to forge our passports but the current technology makes electronic passports secure,” said Nghishekwa who is also the acting permanent secretary in the ministry. The biometric passport is embedded with an electronic microprocessor chip that contains biometric information that can be used to authenticate the identity of the passport holder. The electronic passports come with 48 pages as opposed to 32 pages contained in the machine-readable passports. “[This] is to accommodate frequent travellers … renewing their passport all the time,” said Nghishekwa. The enhanced security features on the e-passport include a visible chip on the cover page, coat of arms, the heroes acre and Namibia’s famous dunes on the first page, which is laminated. Other security features are contained on the inside of the cover page, which include Namibia’s national flag, National Assembly building, the Namibian map and Welwitschia mirabilis plant as opposed to the African map that was there previously. The director of visas, passports and permits Allison Hishekwa has assured the public that although he cannot divulge the name of the manufacturer of the new passports and cost of such project due to non-disclosure agreements, they are very reliable, advanced and reputable. “These companies have come up with advanced technologies for passports. Every nation is at the stage where there is a need to enhance security features on travelling documents,” noted Hishekwa. He added that with the e-passport travellers would have no issues when travelling to countries with strict immigration control. The current machine-readable passports (ordinary, diplomatic and official) in circulation will run concurrently until they outlive their life span of five years. The waiting period for passports will remain the same and the cost will remain at N$160 until the new prices are gazetted.
New Era Reporter
2018-01-08 09:03:52 10 months ago