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Zimbabwe introduces online system for visas

by Staff reporter
19 Jul 2023 at 06:38hrs | Views
GOVERNMENT has announced that the issuance of visitors' visas and residence permits for foreigners will now be supported by an integrated information communication technology system known as the Online Border Management System (OBMS).

The system, which is capable of sustainably handling demand for the services, resonates with the National Development Strategy One (NDS1) objective of modernising the economy through the use of ICTs and digital technology, as the country rallies towards the attainment of Vision 2030.

Government has engaged a Lithuanian company, Garsu Pasaulis to implement the system, which will help expedite the issuance of permits and visas.

Garsu Pasaulis already entered into a partnership with Government to produce e-passports that meet modern international standards and allow Zimbabweans to travel without additional complications. The passport system is being implemented on a build, operate and transfer (BOT) basis.

An ordinary e-passport, which costs US$120, takes seven working days to be processed while the emergency one costs US$220 and is out within 48 hours.

In her post-Cabinet briefing yesterday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Senator Monica Mutsvangwa said Government approved the engagement of Garsu Pasaulis to implement OBMS.

"Cabinet considered and approved the engagement of Garsu Pasaulis AUB on the implementation of an Online Border Management System incorporating visa and residence permits as proposed by the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, Honourable Kazembe Kazembe," she said.

Sen Mutsvangwa said Garsu Pasaulis is implementing the project to produce electronic passports based on biometric technology, including the roll-out of related services to all provinces.

"The remarkable transformation witnessed in the issuance of passports which has seen the backlog and queues wiped out in no time is testimony to Government's due diligence and proficiency in engaging partners to implement projects," she said.

The e-passport scheme was launched by President Mnangagwa in December 2021 after the Government entered into partnership with Garsu Pasaulis.

The switch-over to e-passports has helped eliminate the large backlog of application built-ups.

In addition, an online passport application system is set to be introduced to allow applications and payment for the documents online.

An electronic passport or e-passport contains an electronic chip, which holds the same information that is printed on the passport's data page.

It contains the holder's name, date of birth and other biographic information. An e-passport also contains a biometric identifier.

All of these features are designed to protect citizens from identity theft because it is difficult and expensive to steal the information stored on the document's encrypted digital record. E-passports also allow for faster passage through border posts.

"Accordingly, Cabinet agreed to extend the Garsu Pasaulis contract to cover the implementation of national biometric infrastructure capable of producing entry visas and residence permits. The issuance of the visas and permits will be supported by an integrated information communication technology system capable of sustainably handling demand for the services," said Minister Mutsvangwa.

Meanwhile, Minister Mutsvangwa also announced that the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development in conjunction with the National Economic Consultative Forum will starting tomorrow until Friday host the 2nd Infrastructure Summit in Victoria Falls.

President Mnangagwa is expected to open the summit tomorrow.

The Summit will be held under the theme "Accelerating Transport Infrastructure Projects Development in Zimbabwe: Towards World-Class Transport Networks by 2030".

Minister Mutsvangwa said special attention will be given to the three modes of transport infrastructure in Zimbabwe, namely: road, rail and air.

Various players in the country's infrastructure development sector are attending the two-day event which comes at a time when the Second Republic is working hard towards economic transformation through developments in key sectors such as infrastructure development, manufacturing, agriculture and mining.

The inaugural Infrastructure Summit was also held in Victoria Falls last year in September.

Source - The Chronicle