Business Unusual

Passports could be so much better than they are now

From the Africa Visa Openness Report 2016

African Heads of State will be the first to receive a new African Union e-passport making travel in Africa much easier. The plan is to expand the travel document to also facilitate the movement of goods, a particularly onerous undertaking through the continent. The plan is to allow for visa-free travel throughout Africa for African residents by 2020.

A brief history

While a document offering safe travel dates back to ancient times the current version takes its name from a medieval document allowing travel to towns and cities with gates. The document would list which gates or ports, as they were known then, the traveler was permitted to pass. Sea ports did not require documents.

Not much has changed really.

There are a few options to evolve the paper document. Different countries are testing the various options.

e-Passport

These have an electronic chip embedded in them making them harder to forge and easier to verify at entry points. They contain bio-metric information about the user which could be facial recognition, Iris recognition or fingerprint recognition. The system would allow contactless reading of the details of chip and a scanner would confirm the person matches the information held on the chip.

Because no contact is required the entry points could be managed automatically. Should there be an issue the person could be re-routed to an immigration official. Depending on how the passports are made, they could easily be issued to last longer than the current maximum of 10 years.

If stamps and other markings could be avoided, filling the passport would also no longer be an issue.

e-Visa

A big issue with issuing visa’s that need to be pre-approved is that the passport - and often the person using it - needs to physically present themselves to a specific venue for the processing. This is both time consuming and inconvenient. An e-visa is not actually placed in a passport. It uses an electronic record to say that a passport holder has been approved for entry.

This means that the application can be made online and the visa issued without needing the actual passport. Some countries issue visas at the port of entry which is better, but still time consuming and even more inconvenient if the person is rejected.

The best is to do away with visas altogether, at least for tourist visas. But making business travel and, even more importantly, trade easier is the ultimate goal.

The challenges

Not all countries have the ability to issue the highly secure e-passport limiting the ability to easily implement e-visas or scrap them all together.

It is also not only a logistics issue. Political relations between countries determine the likelihood they would readily accept visits from potential rival states.

The technology to make the transition is currently available, the political will and bureaucratic ability to deliver on it will present the greatest challenges.

The current state of travel in Africa for Africans

  • 55% need a visa to travel to another African country.
  • Only 9 countries offer e-visas. 95% of travelers to Rwanda use an e-visa.
  • Only 13 countries offer easy or free access to other Africans.
  • South Africa is ranked 35th on the continent and considered fairly closed for easy travel - a visa is required by 75% of African countries.
  • Only the Seychelles is truly open and allows all Africans to visit visa free.

From the Africa Openness Report 2016

Also listen to the audio below.


Recommended

by NEWSROOM AI

702 welcomes all comments that are constructive, contribute to discussions in a meaningful manner and take stories forward.

However, we will NOT condone the following:

  • Racism (including offensive comments based on ethnicity and nationality)
  • Sexism
  • Homophobia
  • Religious intolerance
  • Cyber bullying
  • Hate speech
  • Derogatory language
  • Comments inciting violence.

We ask that your comments remain relevant to the articles they appear on and do not include general banter or conversation as this dilutes the effectiveness of the comments section.

We strive to make the 702 community a safe and welcoming space for all.

702 reserves the right to: 1) remove any comments that do not follow the above guidelines; and, 2) ban users who repeatedly infringe the rules.

Should you find any comments upsetting or offensive you can also flag them and we will assess it against our guidelines.

702 is constantly reviewing its comments policy in order to create an environment conducive to constructive conversations.

Read More
To buy or not to buy? That is the question

To buy or not to buy? That is the question

The pros and cons of subscribing to versus buying digital content.

It took a war to change shipping. What will it take to change transport?

It took a war to change shipping. What will it take to change transport?

As hype begins to grow around the Hyperloop, will it change how we travel or run out of track?

Scale may no longer be the best way to achieve growth

Scale may no longer be the best way to achieve growth

Grow or die is the law of the jungle, but does it still apply outside of the jungle?

Will 5G communications make access universal or create another digital divide?

Will 5G communications make access universal or create another digital divide?

The super fast new mobile internet may change the world, but it might not be for the better.

How to win elections and influence people

How to win elections and influence people

You could say elections are being disrupted.

Technology disrupted tax income, but nobody escapes taxes

Technology disrupted tax income, but nobody escapes taxes

Digital companies have had a good run, but new taxes are coming.

Popular articles
Vigilante mob attacks alleged criminals in Daveyton

Vigilante mob attacks alleged criminals in Daveyton

Tensions are rife in the East Joburg township as the community attacked and killed criminals.

[WATCH] Dad uses a drone to pull out son's tooth

[WATCH] Dad uses a drone to pull out son's tooth

Khabazela shares YouTube videos gone viral including a barmaid hitting a colleague who slapped her rear during a routine.

'There is no way Magnus Malan could've done the things he is accused of'

'There is no way Magnus Malan could've done the things he is accused of'

Former police minister Adriaan Vlok has rejected accusations that former minister Malan was at the centre of a paedophile ring.

4 tips for safely investing right now when everything is so hectic

4 tips for safely investing right now when everything is so hectic

Bruce Whitfield asks Personal Financial Advisor Warren Ingram for advice on how investors can safely navigate this hectic time.

[Listen] Lottery responds to Tshepo's fraud claims

[Listen] Lottery responds to Tshepo's fraud claims

Philemon Letwaba says Tshepo's case relates to some of the issues that they are dealing with on a daily basis.