Ugandans are furious over Visa applications with the new Ugandan East African Community passport were turned down.
The digital EAC passport is being rolled out across the region in fulfilment of the 1997 directive from the precursor of the EAC Secretariat to create a regional travel document, similar to one announced by the African Union in 2016.
On Friday, the Danish embassy said they could not issue visa to the holders of the new passport because it had not yet been approved.
“This passport is not yet approved by the Danish authorities and therefore, we cannot issue visa for this passport. We do not know how long it takes for this new passport to be approved. We can keep an application open in our visa system for 15 days,” reads part of the email by Anne Ostman, a consular officer at the Danish Embassy in Nairobi Kenya, responding to one of the applicants.
Ms Margaret Kafeero, the head of public diplomacy at Ministry of Foreign affairs said the issue was being handled.
Samples were forwarded to the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in January 2019.
“The process of entering the new Ugandan East African Community Passports into their system is ongoing and shall be concluded soon,” explained Ms Kafeero.
Apparently, the [two] applicants have been assured that their applications will be processed as soon as the registration process is completed.
The idea of a common passport was floated by the permanent tripartite commission, a precursor to the EAC Secretariat, in 1997.
Following this recommendation, what is now termed the first generation EAC passport was introduced for use alongside national ones. But the EAC passport wasn’t recognised internationally.
The adoption of the national identity card as a recognised travel document for Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda also meant that those in the EAC who had regional passports had little use for them.
Ofwono Opondo, Uganda’s government spokesperson, said the January 2021 deadline was set by the EAC. Since the digital travel document will now be called the East African Community passport, government officials say these deadlines have to be met.
Kenya, which started issuing the digital passport in September 2017, has set August 2021 as the deadline for phasing out the old travel document; while Tanzania has set January 2020 as the deadline.