Entebbe Airport Rolls out E-Digitalized Entry Clearance for Ugandans

By Mark Kawalya

Ugandans arriving from overseas now have the option of using the self-clearance gates at Entebbe International Airport. This was announced to the public by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Simon Mundeyi, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Internal Affairs, revealed that there is widespread concern among many Ugandans regarding the use of such technology. 

Speaking at a press briefing held at Police Headquarters in Naguru, Mundeyi said the E-gates will streamline immigration clearance. “The e-gates will expedite clearance procedures for Ugandans with e-passports, eliminating the need for processing by immigration officers. These E-gates, equipped with advanced technology, are designed exclusively for Ugandan citizens.” He added.

“Travelers must possess a new electronic passport containing a chip with personal data, which is can be read by the machines. Additionally, the traveler will need to have his fingerprint and facial data scanned, which is necessary for authenticating and verifying the data on the holder’s passport,” the ministry spokesperson said.

Despite the system being fully operational, Mundeyi said there is reluctance among Ugandans to utilize the system. This could be because Ugandans prefer to interact with human immigration officers over machines. While the machines have been deployed at multiple points, they are left unused as people still prefers to que and wait to be served by the immigration officers. 

As of February 2024, the passport office had issued a total of 1,346,560 passports since the introduction of the Electronic Passport in 2018. This number includes both polycarbonate and paper-based passports. However, this figure represents only a fraction of Uganda’s population, estimated at 45 million. The low number of passport holders can be attributed to the tendency for Ugandans to apply for passports only when travelling. Despite government investment in passport technology, there has not been a significant increase in passport applications. There is a decline in the number of daily passport applicants, which has dropped from over 3,000 during and after the COVID-19 pandemic to less than 1,000 currently. Currently express applicants now issuance within two days, while ordinary passports are processed within 10 days.    

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