The online passport application service for Ghanaian passports, was launched by the Honourable Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms. Hanna Tetteh, on Tuesday 20th December, 2016, after months of piloting the project. The service is available at: website, passports.mfa.gov.gh or passport.mfa.gov.gh. The current system is expected to phase out by March 2017.
Welcoming the distinguished guests to the event, the Honourable Minister indicated that the launch was a culmination of efforts and process by Government of Ghana to reform the delivery of travel documents for Ghanaians across the country and abroad. It was also to meet Ghana’s obligations to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
The Honourable Minister was optimistic that the on-line application service would address the existing difficulties that have bedeviled passport acquisition in Ghana. The on-line service, she said was also expected to instill efficiency and reliability in passport service delivery and reduce the services of middle men. With this improvement in the process, regular applications are expected to be processed within fifteen (15) working days while expedited services take five (5) working days. The Minister intimated that premium services that will ensure same day service for the business community and frequent flyers, will be introduced in due course. She further disclosed that with time, the passport would be upgraded from the current biometric to chip embedded passports, in line with ICAO requirements.
With the inception of the on-line passport application service, the role of the Passport Application Centers (PACs), will be limited to checking applicant’s details already captured in the system and verifying supporting documents submitted to the PACs by applicants. The on-line application service will reduce errors on the bio-data page of the passports, since applicants would be entering in their data themselves. On-line submission of supporting documents will be enabled when the security of the system is upgraded so that it remains a secure portal for transfer of information.
Currently, the on-line application service is available at Accra PAC. The service will be extended to other Centers in the course of time to ensure full national coverage.
The Technical Advisor of the Ministry, Ambassador Leslie Kojo Christian, who is also chairman of the on-line Passport Application Project Committee said the new service was part of Ghana’s e-government strategy, and expected to enhance efficiency in passport delivery process. He noted that the Committee which worked towards the launch of the e-passport service was also mandated to effectively coordinate and ensure the successful implementation of the on-line passport application service.
This event was adjudged very successful, with serveral participants in attendance. These included representatives of the Regional Groupings of the Diplomatic Corps in Ghana, Heads of Agencies and Staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as over seventy (70) practitioners from the electronic and print media who covered the event. The Hon. Minister urged the media to educate and sensitize the public on the new process for the acquisition of passports in Ghana.
The on-line passport application system was initially introduced in 2014 through the National Information Technology Agency’s (NITA) pilot project. The project exhibited good prospects and thus decision to partner IT consortium, some financial institutions, namely; ECOBANK, Zenith and GCB Bank, some telecommunication companies, namely; Vodafone, MTN and Airtel to improve the system by addressing some technical challenges encountered initially.