Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, says the Ministry is in the process of extending biometric passport application services to the country’s mission abroad.
She explained that the initiative is part of the efforts to decentralise passport application services and make it easier for Ghanaians abroad to acquire the Ghana passport.
“My Ministry since the year 2020 has commenced a programme to equip all Ghanaian missions abroad to enable them to receive and process biometric passports,” the Minister said, while answering questions on the Floor of Parliament on Tuesday.
“I am happy to report that as a result of this initiative 36 out of the total 66 missions are now able to process biometric passports,” Ms. Botchwey revealed.
“It is important to mention that plans are ongoing to cover the remaining 30 missions to ensure that Ghanaians abroad can apply for passports in any of our diplomatic missions without having to travel to Accra to do so as it was the practice previously,” he said.
She said the Ministry had also designated 11 missions as printing houses, adding that “these missions have been resourced to print passports for our compatriots abroad.”
“Based on this arrangement, all missions have been grouped and assigned to the printing hubs to print passport applications,” the Minister indicated.
She informed the House that the country’s diplomatic missions also embark upon outreached programmes to provide consular services to Ghanaians who reside in remote communities.
“This initiative makes it possible for such people to access consular services such as acquisition of passports, without having to travel long distances on tour missions. Our missions engage the Ghanaian communities through town-hall meetings,” she added.
According to her, in pursuant of its mandate of promoting and protecting the interest of Ghanaian citizens abroad, the Ministry since 2017 has introduced a number of interventions aimed at improving the delivering of consular services – that is visas and passports by our diplomatic missions.
“The online application system- under the government digitalisation agenda, my ministry has rolled out an online integrated system for passport and visa applicants in our mission abroad.
“Based on this new arrangement, applicants are required to book appointments through an online platform and report at the mission on scheduled appointment date in order to be attended to by consular officers,” she noted.
She explained that through the online system, missions abroad are now able to handle passport and visa services in a more efficient and reliable way thereby reducing the turnaround time for providing visa services.
“On the other hand, the system makes it convenient and comfortable for our compatriots to access consular services abroad without having to go through much hassle and frustrations.
“Indeed, in the case of our mission in London, a chartroom service has been introduced which makes it possible for applicants to ask questions of issues of concern,” she added.
The Minister said the client service unit located at the Ministry in Accra had been equipped with relevant software which enables the unit to give real time updates on passport applications across the globe.
“The unit is able to respond to basic complaints and grievances on matters concerning passport application. Missions abroad are being supported to engage services of customer service professionals to handle complaints about consular services of applicants,” she added.