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Ethiopian Immigration and Citizenship Services (ICS) has entered into an agreement with Toppan Gravity Ethiopia (TGE) for the supply and services of a newly designed Ethiopian E-passport.

The new agreement, with TGE, a joint venture formed by Ethiopian Investment Holdings (EIH), Berhanena Selam Printing Enterprise, and Educational Material Production & Distribution Enterprise, is expected to be a turning point for the long-troubled ICS who has been struggling with a backlog of passport applications.

Ethiopian passports are mostly printed in France. EIS has been previously grappling with chronic forex shortages to import passports. Compounded by corruption issues, ICS has been a major source of frustration for both locals and non-nationals. Many Ethiopians have been forced to postpone or cancel their travel plans as they could not get their passport on time.

The TGE printing facility is slated to be situated in the Bole Lemi industrial park in Addis Ababa, and construction is set to commence in January 2024. Shega was unable to obtain additional information before the publication of this article despite attempts. 

According to a statement shared on social media by EIH, the partnership is expected to enhance security features and optimize operational efficiency for the new passports.

An E-passport, also known as an electronic or biometric passport, is a passport with an embedded electronic microprocessor chip that contains data such as fingerprints, photos, and signatures. Biometric passports, when scanned through specialized devices, are more effective against passport fraud than traditional passports.

In July of this year, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed initiated changes within the Immigration Service by appointing Selamawit Dawit as the new director general. Following her appointment, Selamawit addressed a backlog of 300,000 passport requests by placing a substantial order for 1.5 million new documents from manufacturers in Paris.

The Ethiopian government launched the joint venture with Toppan Gravity, a UAE-based security provider, aiming to expand Toppan Gravity’s manufacturing footprint in Africa. This partnership comes after Toppan Gravity’s unsuccessful bid for a contract to produce digital ID cards for Ethiopia.

 

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Kaleab, Shega's Editor-in-Chief, Specializes in Reporting on Small Businesses, Innovation, Technology, and Startups in Ethiopia