The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Madam Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, has told Parliament that the Ghana Card is not an E-passport.
According to her, the card could not be used to travel to other countries within or outside ECOWAS.
“It must be underscored that the passport, together with the travel certificate, are the only approved travel documents for the Ghanaian; they are internationally recognised,” the minister said.
The Foreign Affairs Minister made this known on the floor of Parliament in a response to a question by the Member of Parliament for Salaga South, Zuwera Mohammed Ibrahimah, on whether Ghanaians no longer needed passport to travel and also whether the Ghana Card now represented a passport.
Ms Ayorkor Botchwey said although the Ghana Card bears the technical features of an e-passport, there was still a long way to go for it to be recognised as such.
She explained that, the Ghana Card, as defined in section 19 of the National Identification Authority Act, 2006 (Act 707) is “an identity card with a personal identification number issued by the Authority for purposes of identification of a person to whom the card is issued.
“Therefore, while the card is principally an identification document, an e-passport is essentially a travel document,” the minister told the house.
The minister said, her outfit was in discussions with members of the ECOWAS state and the nation’s bilateral partners for the Ghana Card to be used as a travel document.
“At the moment, the Ghana Card cannot be used for travel to other countries either within or outside of ECOWAS as that will require bilateral agreement with countries for their authorities to accept the card as travel document. The Ministry is in active discussion with ECOWAS member states and our bilateral partners to achieve this,” she said.
The rollout of the Ghana Card sparked conversations after the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, said the card has fully met the requirements for an E-passport, despite a rejection by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
In February, the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) announced to the public that beginning Tuesday, March 1, a valid Ghana Card would be accepted for nationals and dual nationals returning to the country.
This follows the recognition of the card as an ICAO-compliant travel document which will serve as an optional travel document.
A statement issued by the Head of Public Affairs, Superintendent Michael Amoako-Atta, of the Immigration Service said until bilateral agreements are signed with other countries, the Ghana Card cannot be used to travel outside the ECOWAS sub-region.
It said “Ghanaians who have renounced their Ghanaian citizenship to obtain the citizenship of another country are not eligible to travel on the Ghana Card.
“It should also be noted that dual nationals holding the Ghana Card will not require visas to enter Ghana.”
“Upon arrival, the identity of the Ghana Cardholder will be verified against the National Identity Register,” it added.
The statement also highlighted the entry procedures that there shall be designated booths at the Kotoka International Airport to process Ghanaian passengers who travel on the Ghana Card into the country.
It noted that “Once the passenger’s identity has been successfully verified, the passenger is admitted into the country.”