Rwanda on Friday rolled out the East African Community (EAC) electronic passport in an effort to boost faster border clearance as well as part of a wider regional strategy to enhance integration.
Rwanda now joins other EAC states—Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania—that have already issued the electronic passport to their citizens.
The move follows a directive by EAC heads of state in March 2016 to adopt the new generation passports and phase out national documents.
“The launch of the new East Africa electronic passport fulfils the vision set by the EAC heads of state and is in compliance with specifications for the security, design and issuance of machine-readable travel documents by the International Civil Aviation Organization,” François-Régis Gatarayiha, the Director General of Emigration and Immigration told journalists.
The new e-passport replaces the existing national document set to be phased out by June 2021.
According to immigration officials, the e-passport is more secure as it features a microchip making it tamper-proof.
Rwandans can now apply for the new travel document online as issuance of the current ordinary passport has been stopped.
An electronic passport that expires in five years will cost Rwf75,000 (about $82) slightly more expensive than the current passport which cost about $55, while a 10-year electronic passport will cost Rwf100,000 ($110).
The e-passport is expected to boost the performance of Rwanda's travel documents.
According to the Henley Passport Index 2019, the Kenyan passport was ranked the most powerful in the region, at position 72 globally, followed by Tanzania’s at 73, Uganda’s at position 76, Rwanda’s at 84, Burundi 92 and South Sudan’s at 97.
Citizens from the region can only enter a maximum of 71 countries under a visa-free regime, while those from Japan, Singapore and South Korea — which have the most powerful passports—can enter up to 190 countries without paying for a visa.