Ghana will from April next year issue its citizens with biometric passports, the acting Director, Legal and Consular Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, McArios Akanbeanab Akanbong, has disclosed.
This is to enable the country to meet the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) deadline for member states to provide their nationals with such a document to avoid being denied entry into member countries of ICAO.
A biometric passport is the most modern travelling document which has features like electronic chip into which has been processed, the thumbprint of holders and kept at a biometric Centre soon to be established in Accra.
Mr. Akanbong said without a biometric passport, Ghanaians travelling outside risked being denied entry as their data would not be at the Biometric Centre immigration officers at international airports to cross check their details.
To decentralise and fast track the process of acquisition, biometric centres will be established in Tamale, Kumasi, Ho and Takoradi where people could walk in and have their photographs and thumbprints taken together with other personal details for data purposes and later issued with the passports.
Benefits to be derived from the new passports, according to Mr Akanbong, would include elimination of middlemen in the application and acquisition of passports and the avoidance of situations where individuals manipulate the system and acquire multi-passports.
"No middleman can acquire a biometric passport for anyone because with this system, the applicant has to be available for his or her thumbprint to be taken for data and identification purposes before the passport is issued," he said.
Mr Akanbong said in view of the change the next batch of Diplomatic Passports to be issued to government officials this September will be biometric.
Such passports are issued to government officials on official business abroad and their spouses, heads and staff of Ghana's missions as well as heads of government delegations attending conferences on behalf of the state and others.
Mr Akanbong said biometric passports would make it easier to track criminals and other miscreants because their data at the biometric centre would help identify them.