18 May 2019

Kenya: Govt Launches e-Passport Centres to Serve Diaspora

The government has launched e-passport centres in six countries abroad, in its initial attempt to serve Kenyans in the diaspora.

Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma said the service will initially be available at Kenyan embassies in Pretoria, London, Paris, Dubai, Washington and Beijing.

"We mounted the e-passport infrastructure last week. Kenyans are encouraged to get in touch with the missions for modalities of this process," Ms Juma said on Friday.

The centres will later be opened in other countries.

NO TRAVEL

The launch of the centres in places with the largest numbers of Kenyans in the diaspora could mean Kenyans will no longer need to travel back home to apply for new passports.

Run by the Immigration Department, portals will be available on the websites of Kenyan missions, with directions for applicants to follow.

The programme, promised by the government in 2018, comes in handy as some Kenyans abroad had complained of lack of services despite a directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

While in Namibia in March, President Kenyatta directed that citizens living in foreign countries be issued with the new generation passports in their countries of residence.

He was responding to concerns about a myriad of challenges in applying for the new passports during a meeting with Kenyans on the sidelines of his state visit to Namibia.

At the time, the Foreign Affairs ministry said the Immigration Department had been setting up tools which required deployment of personnel.

ATTACHES

Initially, embassies had required Kenyans to register their presence on the portals, to help provide the numbers and influence decisions on setting up centres.

The Immigration Department had said it would start with North America, the Middle East and South Africa before expanding gradually.

Officially, the ministry manages diplomatic missions abroad, but specific services such as passport issuance are provided by the same departments as at home.

That means the Immigration Department will have to send attaches in all embassies to ensure the service is provided.

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