Nigeria government aims to speed up biometric capture for passports

Nigeria’s federal government is hoping to open more passport production centres to help smooth and speed up the issuing of secure biometric passports in the country.

Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola, talking at the inauguration of a new front office and production centre of the Nigeria Immigration Services (NIS), admitted that there has been a surge in demand for passports, fuelled by the listing of covid restrictions. He noted that the NIS is currently working to clear a huge backlog of passport applications.

Quoted in a related report by This Day, he said: “Fresh application will take six weeks after biometric data capture, while renewal requires just three weeks. To respond to the challenge, we increased our production capacity. In 2021, we produced one million booklets. Last year, we increased production to 1.8 million, nearly doubling our efforts. We shall keep working at it to ensure that we provide for as many Nigerians that are desirous of the passport.”

The opening of more nationwide centres will help to more efficiently handle the number of applications coming in every day, we well as reduce the waiting time required for the capture of biometrics.

Nigeria is not alone in moving to more secure biometric passports. Uganda has recently introduced polycarbonate biometric passports which are embedded with electronic chips in a move away from paper-based electronic passports.

According to a government announcement, the ICAO and East Africa Community (EAC) standards-compliant passport will have superior data protection and durability. By complying to biometric standards, it will support Ugandans to use automated flight-boarding systems and e-gates for self-clearance.

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