Kenya’s Immigration Department Extends ePassport Deadline for the Fourth Time

Kenya’s Immigration Department has once again extended the deadline allowing Kenyans to travel on the navy blue analog passport, this marks the fourth extension since the ePassport was introduced.

The Kenyan government has once again extended the deadline for the use of the machine readable navy blue passport to 30th November 2022 from the previous deadline of 31st December 2021.

This will allow more time for those without the new digital light blue ePassport to get it.

This extension becomes the fourth since the introduction of the ePassport in 2017. The original launch for the ePassport was scheduled for January 2017 but this was delayed till September of the the same year. The government then gave Kenyans two years to switch the new passport and issued the first deadline for 31st August 2019.

The rollout of the ePassport was unfortunately not uneventful. In June 2019, the Kenyan Embassy in Berlin became the first Embassy to issue the ePassport abroad. With a few weeks to the deadline, the Kenyan extended the deadline to 1st March 2020. First extension and second deadline. (READ: President Kenyatta Extends Validity of the Navy Blue Kenyan Passport)

In February 2020, the Interior Minister announced another extension, this time explaining that the majority of the community in the diaspora had not switched to the new passport and the government sought to give them more time. New deadline, 1st March 2021. (READ: Kenyan Government Extends ePassport Deadline AGAIN )

On 4th February 2021, citing delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Interior Ministry silently extended the phase out deadline to 31st December 2021 and threatened that this would be the last extension. Third extension fourth deadline.

Oh well, here we are again. In a statement released last week, the Immigration department sent a statement to the press extending the deadline yet again, this time to 30th November 2022.

The extension is welcome, but why didn’t the Kenyan government or the East African Council of Ministers think through all this before making the first extension and all the threats? Why did our government threaten people so much when they knew that the world wouldn’t end if the passports weren’t switched by end of 2019?

Countries that consider their citizens as human instead of subjects actually plan ahead for such things. If these extensions have reached 2022, this government could have easily made it 2027 as well.

When the ePassport was launched on 1st September 2017, what if the government set the validity of the old navy blue passport for 30th September 2027? Kenyan passports are valid for 10 years, meaning even the person that got their navy blue passport on 31st August 2017 – just a day before the launch. Would have switched to the new ePassport because their passport would have expired. Then we wouldn’t need any threats, and people in the diaspora losing jobs or leaving children or going out of status because of having to travel to Kenya to get the new passport. Our governments have to start treating us as humans, less threats.

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