According to the Director of Immigration services (DIS), in adverts placed in the local dailies and online, from today the 1st of May 2015 henceforth, all applications for Kenyan passport will be done online. This is powered by the online government platform christened e-citizen where you can also access other services from other government agencies such as renewal of your driver’s license, search and register a business name with the state law office, land search among others. I have a bias towards Immigration services so I will address myself to accessing Immigration services through this platform.
In order to use this services, you must register for e-citizen using either your national ID if you are a citizen or Alien Card if you are a foreign national residing in Kenya lawfully (sorry to illegal immigrants…this is not for you). In order to apply for a passport, you will log into e-citizen and select Immigration services, then the type of service you want and this will take you to the form that you will fill…it is pretty much the same old form but now you do the filling online. Once done with the filling you will then select the mode of payment to use, if it is Mpesa or credit/debit card among others…well you can get a step by step on how to do this from the e-citizen.
I have already seen a lot of debate online as to whether this is really online or manual system and if it adds any value and so forth. I am not an ICT expert but as an Immigration services practitioner, I think whatever the situation, this venture is a step in the right direction and should be supported. We have been crying as citizens that we need to embrace technology in the public service to enhance service delivery and for sure this is one such step the government is taking towards that. I am also looking forward to see other services of the Kenya Immigration department such as permits, passes and visas go live on this platform but passports is the right place to start.
In the meantime, I would like to give my personal review and views on this e-citizen platform. The truth is that it is a manual system online! Well, one of my good friend and my undergraduate literature lecturer was not amused by manual system online! The truth though is that you will fill the form online but still have to print and avail yourself to either of the three passport issuing offices in the country and queue for the Immigration officer to verify the documents and take a photo…the same process as before anyway…many of us don’t like that because of the long queues and other challenges of finding packing in Nairobi, especially near Nyayo house not mentioning the frisking you have to undergo to enter the premises of Nyayo house…we probably hoped that we could do everything online and just wait for the passport to be delivered. Whereas that is ideal, the reality is it is not likely to happen anytime in the future for several reasons.
I am not sure there is any country where the entire process of passport application is online but am open to be educated on such countries. If you look at the security challenges we are facing as a country, I don’t think we would have enough safeguards to host 100% online passport application system…ICT experts can educate us more on this.
My contention is that the spirit of this process is well intended and visionary. How it performs will inform the future of this process but I can bet things will get better. There are a few additions that probably the designers of this process could consider incorporating to manage traffic at Immigration offices. For instance I am imagining that there could have been a functionality that schedules your time slot to appear before immigration officers once you select your preferred office and the date akin to what the American Embassy consular section or the UK & Australian visa application centers do. This will bring some sanity in the Immigration banking halls because citizens will only be allowed into the hall based on the time allocated to them by the system. The officers will not be overwhelmed by numbers of angry and hungry applicants queuing for long house to be served.
I am sure as times go by and based on our experiences with the system once it is operational will inform the amendments the government will make into the system but so far so good.
Well done to the architects of this platform and my prayer that all citizens will support this initiative and give the necessary fair and accurate feedback to the government based on their experiences with the new system to help in additions or rectifications where necessary.


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