Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, has reiterated that although the Ghana Card bears the technical features of an e-passport, there is still a long way to go for it to be recognised as such.
She explained that, by contrast, the Ghana Card, as defined in section 19 of the National Identification Authority Act, 2006 (Act 707) is “an identity card with a personal identification number issued by the Authority for purposes of identification of a person to whom the card is issued.
“Therefore, while the card is principally an identification document, an e-passport is essentially a travel document,” she said on the floor of Parliament on Tuesday.
Ms Ayorkor Botchwey said, in a response to a question by Ms Zuwera Mohammed Ibrahimah, Member of Parliament for Salaga South, whether the Ghana card represented an e-passport and what exactly was the meaning of e-passport, whether Ghanaians no longer needed passports and whether the Ghana Card now represented a passport.
“Mr Speaker, at the moment, the Ghana Card cannot be used to travel to other countries either within or outside of ECOWAS as that would require bilateral agreements with those countries for their authorities to accept the card as a travel document,” she said.
Ms Ayorkor Botchwey said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was in active discussion with ECOWAS member States and their bilateral partners to achieve the card being used as a travel document.
“However, in light of the announcement by the Ghana Immigration Service titled “Notice to the Public: Use of Ghana Card as a Travel Document”, dated 24th February 2022, Ghanaian and dual national holders of Ghana Card would be able to travel to Ghana using the Ghana Card,” she said.
Ms Ayorkor Botchwey clarified to Parliament that an e-passport was an international travel document which contained the biodata of its holder on a microchip and had robust security features against identity and other forms of document fraud, thereby rendering it the travel document of choice for most countries.
“Mr Speaker, you would recall that recently, at a ceremony held in the Headquarters of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in Montreal, Canada, Ghana was welcomed into the ICAO Public Key Directory (PKD), which is a central repository needed to verify and authenticate biographic and biometric information on international travel documents.
“As such, the congratulatory message sent to Ghana by ICAO following the latter’s decision to join the PKD was not to suggest in any way that the Ghana Card had become an e-passport,” she said.
Ms Ayorkor Botchwey told Parliament that the Ghana Card was not a replacement for the country’s current biometric passport.
However, it could serve as an optional travel document to be used in tandem with Ghana’s biometric passport.
“Mr Speaker, it must be underscored that the passport, together with the travel certificate, is the only approved travel documents for Ghanaians that are internationally recognised,” she said.