The East African Community (EAC) is considering issuing a new regional passport that will be recognized across the globe.
Speaking to The New Times yesterday, Bill Kayonga, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of EAC Affairs said that the new passport will contain security features for Rwanda and Burundi.
“Initially the passport had security features of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania the first EAC countries and was being used in those countries only,” he added.
Kayonga stated that the council of ministers has the ambition to upgrade the passport from regional to international status.
“I cannot specify the time frame to process the passports; It’s a work in progress. Rwandans and Burundians will be in position to own and use the EAC passport after the introduction of the new document that will also be recognised globally,” he said.
Recently, while addressing a plenary session of the regional legislative assembly, in Burundi, the Chairman of the EAC Council of Ministers, Hasfa Mosi, did not offer a definite date when the passport would start operating beyond the region.
Mosi, who is also Burundi’s EAC Minister, mentioned then that the passports will be printed on a wider scale and will operate within the whole region and beyond, alongside the national passports.
The EAC passport will also have the diplomatic, service and ordinary categories.
The process started in 2005 with the council of ministers directing the secretariat to work out a way of globalizing the EAC passport.
Later a task force of immigration experts was also put in place to design it with security features but later slowed down because they had to wait for Rwanda and Burundi to include their security features.
According to Anaclet Kalibata, the Director General of Immigration and Emigration, they have forwarded Rwanda security features to the EAC Secretariat.
“We are waiting for the meeting of EAC immigration and emigration chiefs that will validate the security features agreed by all the five partner states before we have a common passport accepted worldwide,” he added.
Kalibata mentioned that by next year they will have decided a timeframe on when to start printing and issuing of the EAC passport.