Statement by the Hon. Vice President, Ambassador Victor Bockarie Foh on behalf of His Excellency, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma at the Launching Ceremony of the e-Passport at the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Hon. Vice President
Hon. Speaker of Parliament
Members of Parliament
Your Excellencies Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corp
Mayors and Chairmen of Local Councils
Paramount Chiefs and other Traditional Leaders
Representatives of De La Rue Identity Systems
Ladies and Gentlemen.
In line with my Government’s continued actions to sustain and improve on our achievements, I shall this morning launch our transformation from the use of Machine readable passport to ePassport. As you may be aware, ePassports are the latest generation of Passports combining printing and digital technologies. It is an overhaul of the current Machine readable passport we are using.
You would recall that my Government, in July 2009, changed from the use of the old fashioned handwritten passport to ECOWAS Machine readable passport systems. That shift ensured our country's compliance with international best practices. It also made passport administration more effective and enhanced national and international security systems.
|VP Foh & Chief Immigration Officer hold up their passports
But we must continue to move forward. I am here to demonstrate my Government's commitment to moving forward. Our transformation today to ePassport technology delivers a significantly higher level of trust, improves border security and dramatically enhances the protection of citizens’ identities. The ePassport aligns Sierra Leone to the Traveller identification Programme strategy (TRIP) of ICAO, enhances automation and speeds up document checking at border controls, and improves service to passport holders. The ePassport strengthens trust and recognition of Sierra Leone internationally which could lead to the removal of visas in the future for travellers.
Significant to us as a nation is that the introduction of ePassport technology is a key stepping stone in Sierra Leone’s digital pathway to delivering eGovernment services to its citizen population.
Based on the features of the scheme, coupled with the use of a Local partner Netpage Ltd, the ePassport will ensure the transfer of knowledge and skills from De La Rue, by enabling the remote installation of technology and training.
The Contractor, De La Rue, has impeccable credibility for handling matters of this nature. They have handled our passport and national currency for over 40 years. De La Rue are the leading commercial e-passport producer in the world and have transitioned many countries to e-passports including on the African continent.
Let me also commend the Minister of Internal Affairs, The Immigration Department, the Contractor, and the Local Partners for putting their hands together to get us to this stage today.
It is now my honour to launch the ePassport for the People of Sierra Leone.