Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey says the country will in the next seven months transition from the current biometric to chip-embedded passports.
She said the chip embedded passport is being issued by most sovereign states because of its high security features. She made these known after an unannounced working visit to the Greater Accra Passport Application Centre (PAC) near Tema Station, Accra and the Passport Head Office, Ridge.
“It is good (biometric), but it has its limitations. The chip embedded passport has more security features and therefore, it will reduce the ‘non-Ghanaians,’ so to speak, who are able to get our passports and it will be linked directly to the national identification (system which is being compiled).” Madam Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey said.
She said the contract had been awarded to a wholly Ghanaian-owned company which would commence within the timelines set.
The Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Minister said about 90,000 passport applicants had not received their passports, noting that her ministry was addressing the challenge.
She said the backlog was due to global supply chain disruptions being experienced by all importers worldwide. This, she says, accounts for the inability of Ghana’s supplier of passport booklets to meet the country’s demands.
She said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration will take delivery of over 300,000 booklets in the next 10 days to clear the backlog.
“We normally would order our booklets in advance. When we get to a certain level of supply, we order the next batch of booklets. Unfortunately, because of COVID and the supply chain issues that have occurred as a result, we are having difficulties with our booklets coming in.
As we speak, we have booklets in stock, but the booklets that we have in stock are less than demand. Fortunately, we will receive booklets around the 13th of this month, way more than what is in backlog.” Madam Botchwey said.
“We are expecting over 300,000 this month. I believe the backlog is about 90,000, we have some in stock to take care of emergencies and expedited service and so on,” she added.
Clarifying claims that Ghana’s supplier of passport booklets is Chinese and that the current shortage of booklets is because the country owes her Chinese supplier, the Foreign Minister noted that the allegation was far from the truth.
“Our supplier hasn’t changed over the last 15 years. Our supplier is a Ghanaian, one hundred per cent owned company, who supplies and supports us with some services here (Passport Office) in terms of hardware. It has not changed and I don’t even see it changing. So it is false that the supplier is a Chinese,” the Foreign Affairs Minister stated.