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 What to expect as passport automation takes off today

What to expect as passport automation takes off today

With the automation of the process for passport application and issuance billed to take off on Monday (today), Nigeria is on course to deliver one of the most widely expected reforms.

Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, minister of interior, announced last Tuesday that the automation of the process would begin on January 8, 2024, and would allow Nigerians to apply and complete their passport application process online without human contact.

In December last year, Tunji-Ojo hinted that the federal government was working to ensure a fully automated system of passport application in the country, disclosing that the system was 99 percent done.

The minister emphasised that the automated passport initiative represents not only a leap toward efficiency but also a substantial enhancement to the country’s security, with promises to eliminate the need for manual document submission and physical visits to immigration offices.

Here is what Nigerians should expect as the automation of passport applications take off, although more details are being expected from the authorities.

Under the new automated system, Nigerians will only need to visit immigration centres for fingerprint biometrics, simplifying the passport application process by reducing the face-to-face requirements and making it more convenient for applicants.

“Part of the reforms we are putting in place now is that when you want to enroll for your passport you fill your forms online, you make your payment online, you upload your passport photographs and other supporting documents from the comfort of your homes,” the minister said.

The automated system is also intended to enhance security by quickly identifying fraudulent passport applications. With document verification officers stationed nationwide, the system will ensure thorough scrutiny of passport applications across all local government areas, contributing to strengthened national security measures.

The enhanced passport application process represents a significant advancement in the country’s security. It promises quicker detection of fake passport applications and aims to reduce blockages, reinforcing the overall efficiency and reliability of the passport issuance system.

Tunji-Ojo also highlighted that the new system will help to save especially the vulnerable in the society the inconvenience of travelling to Abuja for processes as simple as “a change of name”; instead, they can now complete this process conveniently from their homes.

“With the new reforms, you don’t need to travel to Abuja to change your data. Everything will be online,” he said.

Automated passport applications will equally help reduce errors by minimising manual data entry. The digital nature of the process helps eliminate transcription mistakes that might occur when handling paper forms. Additionally, automated systems often include validation checks and prompts for missing information, further reducing the likelihood of errors in passport applications.

The new process is also expected to increase efficiency by streamlining the entire process, enabling quick submission of required documents online, eliminating the need for extensive paperwork, facilitating electronic payments, and often allowing for faster processing times.

The automation will reduce manual intervention, minimise bottlenecks, and enhance the overall speed and responsiveness of the passport application system, leading to increased efficiency.

It can help save costs by reducing the need for extensive manual processing. This is because digital submissions and streamlined workflows minimise paperwork, cutting down on materials and resources traditionally associated with paper-based applications.

Additionally, automated systems often require less physical infrastructure and personnel for data entry and processing, leading to overall cost savings in the passport application process.

According to authorities, the automated passport system enhances the user experience through features such as online submissions, intuitive digital interfaces, and user-friendly platforms. Applicants can conveniently submit documents, complete forms, and make electronic payments from the comfort of their homes. Automated systems often include clear instructions, real-time status tracking, and user prompts, making the entire passport application process more accessible and straightforward for individuals, contributing to an overall improved user experience.

“Automated passport applications would play a pivotal role in modernising and enhancing passport issuance processes, offering efficiency, accuracy, and improved security measures,” George Kalu, an Abuja-based IT specialist, told BusinessDay.

“By streamlining workflows, reducing errors, and providing convenience for applicants, these systems contribute significantly to a more effective and user-friendly passport application experience, reflecting a crucial step forward in the realm of national security and international travel,” he added.(BUSINESS DAY)

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