The passport office has been having a torrid time keeping up with the demand for the travelling document for a long time. Whilst the short-term solutions have included citizens with foreign currency paying for the most expensive passport, that’s not exactly a sustainable solution considering how many people can actually afford that passport.
Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe said the government would clear the backlog by year-end. One of the solutions the Minister proposed is decentralising the passport application process by enabling citizens to apply online:
We have a backlog of 355 000 passports, they need to be processed and that backlog has to be cleared before year-end. The major challenge is the lack of consumables. Decentralisation is an ongoing process. The solution is computerisation. There is no decentralisation that beats applications via onlineMinister Kazembe Kazembe
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An online passport application system has been on the government’s radar since 2017 now and it’s surprising it hasn’t materialised yet when other projects part of the e-Government initiative have already been commissioned (i.e eVisa and eHealth).
One would assume that the Passport Office might lose revenue since they won’t be able to charge for passport forms anymore because you certainly cannot argue that the passport crisis is a low priority issue for the government.
Outside of an online application system, Minister Kazembe also said the installation of solar power would help address the backlog since power challenges have contributed to the delays in processing of passports.