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Passport issuance rose by 85 percent as Kenyans rushed to beat deadlines

The number of Kenyans who acquired passports rose by 85.4 percent last year as the State moved to open up more issuance centres locally and abroad.

While the KNBS data does not give a breakdown in terms of how many Kenyans abroad or locally acquired the travel passes, analysts reckon that strict deadline for the issuance of e-passports could have also led to the surge in the numbers.

“The long lines that used to be outside Nyayo House as the state moved to set stiff deadlines for Kenyans to acquire the new generation passport could have also led to the rise in the number passport issued last year,” said Ken Gichinga, chief economist at Mentoria Economics.

In February, the government extended the deadline for migration to the new e-passport to March 2021.

This was the second time that the deadline for the new passports was extended after President Uhuru Kenyatta last year ordered the extension to March 2020.

In a bid to ensure swift service delivery, the State also set up more control centres to facilitate faster issuance of the travel document done within a day of application ahead of the July deadline.

Locally, the new centres were set up in Nakuru, Kisii, Eldoret and Embu while in Europe, the centres were established in Berlin, Paris and London. Others abroad are in Washington DC, Dubai and Johannesburg.

As of last May, 800,000 e-passports had been issued three months to the August 31 deadline amid a rush at the issuing centres.

Former Immigration PS Gordon Kihalangwa told Parliament last May that the department was serving an average of 4,000 passport applicants daily.

The new-generation e-passports feature a microchip containing data about the holder, which also matches the information in the passport booklet.

The e-passport allows information stored on the chip to be verified with the information visually displayed on the booklet.

Due to its secure nature, the e-passport curbs reproduction and tampering. It also enhances imposter detection.