Tanzania's move to roll out a high tech passport is a huge step towards boosting trade both at the regional and international levels.
President John Magufuli officially commissioned the new travel document on Wednesday.
The business community has welcomed the new generation passports for their multiple benefits, including easing travel for Tanzanians. More important, the move is part of an ambitious regional plan to ease travel for East African residents.
Tanzania now joins Burundi, Kenya and Rwanda in rolling out the electronic passport. Last year, the issuance of the East African Community (EAC) electronic passport was pushed January this year, to give Tanzania and Uganda more time to prepare for the rollout.
One of the major hurdles that have been repeatedly cited as a stumbling block to boosting trade and regional integration is the difficulty of travelling across countries - hampering the movement of goods and services.
For the economies of East African Community member states to grow, there is need to ensure the free flow of goods and labour from one country to another.
Therefore, eradicating trade barriers is the only way that the EAC member states can help foster business in the region.
The good news is that the electronic passport has been touted as a great step in easing clearance at entry points. It will also curb counterfeit travel documents and tampering, as well as hastening the free flow of goods from one point to another
This is a big step in efforts to attract investment.
According to the Immigration Department, the current passports in use will be phased out by January 2020.
The passports will feature a microchip containing details of the owner and will allow information contained in it to be verified against information displayed in the passport.
We urge the regional governments to keep working on the removal of other barriers to trade to spur growth.