East African electronic passports

E-passport will give citizens easier access around East African Community.

The East African Community (EAC) is set to introduce e-passports, facilitating easier movement around the trading bloc whose five member countries include Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda.

The launch of the long-awaited e-passport, plus full details of its use, is scheduled to take place during the EAC Heads of State Summit in Arusha on 29 February.

Available from March, the e-passport will have an electronic chip containing the same information as the old passport but with the addition of a biometric code, digital photographs and security features to prevent fraud and forgery.

Currently EAC citizens use national identification and voting cards as travel documents, following an agreement reached by member states in 2014.

The top items for discussion at the upcoming summit include considering sustainable financing mechanisms for the bloc's activities as well as reviewing the admission to the EAC of South Sudan and Somalia.

However the continuing crisis in Burundi following last summer's controversial re-election of President Pierre Nkurunziza, after a disputed victory and weeks of violence, is likely to receive close, if cautious, scrutiny by the leaders of the EAC whose membership conditions include political stability.

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