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Just like at home, getting passport for Kenyans abroad is a tough task

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Like many Kenyans living abroad, Justin K Wangila in Tanzania was excited by the announcement in Nairobi in 2017 that the government would start issuing “new generation” passports.

“This was a dream come true because, for a long time, most of us Kenyans living in other countries, especially those in East Africa, had yearned for an East African Community passport … we were in a hurry to apply,” Mr Wangila said in an interview with the Sunday Nation.

Mr Wangila was told the application process started online after one opened an account on the internet portal e-Citizen.

“That is where problems start. I wasn’t applying for a passport for the first time. I was renewing one. But this process makes you start from scratch because, like in my case, they had none of my records,” he said.

ADVICE

He needed several documents, such as his national identity (ID) card number, his personal identification number (PIN) and his parents’ ID numbers.

“I got stuck because I did not have my late father’s ID. In its absence, the process required the number on the death certificate.

“My father died a long time ago and I wasn’t even sure a death certificate had been issued. I was forced to take some days off from work to travel home to try and find my father’s death certificate,” he added.

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Having gone through the process, this is what Mr Wangila wants his diaspora compatriots to bear in mind as they seek new passports:

“All spaces must be filled on the form. Payment is via M-Pesa only. You must be sponsored by a lawyer, pastor/imam or a banker. The sponsor has to provide a copy of their ID.

“And, finally, you have to personally deliver the documents to Immigration Department at Nyayo House, Nairobi, where you’ll find extraordinarily long queues.”

CONVENIENCE

These challenges are not unique to the Kenyan diaspora, those in the country go through them too.

To address this, the Department of Immigration announced early in the week that it would open new digital passport issuance points across the country and abroad to ease congestion at Nyayo House.

Immigration Director-General Alex Muteshi said the centres would be opened in Kisumu, Mombasa, Kisii, Nakuru, Embu and Eldoret, as well as in the US and the United Arab Emirates.

“We are opening new locations in Kisii, Nakuru, Eldoret and Embu and expect the current pressure at Nyayo House to ease,” Mr Muteshi said.

“Those in the diaspora do not need to travel back here as they will be able to acquire passports from our offices in Paris, Berlin, Washington, London, Dubai and Johannesburg in the next two months.”

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“The announcement of this department does not in any way solve the diaspora problem. Passport renewals have been taking four to eight months to be processed, not only in America, but also in most embassies across the world,” said Mr D.K Gitau, founder of Kenyan Parents in US, an organisation that was once contracted by the embassy in Washington DC to help in the issuance of IDs and passports.

COST

Mr Gitau said the embassy in DC told him biometric kits would only be available at two consular centres — Los Angeles and DC.

“If that is the case, it will cost each one a minimum of $750 (Sh75,000) for travel and accommodation, assuming you live in Seattle, Washington or Boston, Massachusetts, and you have to travel to either DC or LA to process a passport,” he said.

Mr Gitau said the embassy has been trying to partner with his organisation to cut that cost.

“Kenyan parents in US organised a successful ID and passport event in Georgia on July 21 and 22, 2018, where more than 250 people were processed. But then some people claimed that the organisation was defrauding them, so the process stopped,” Mr Gitau said.

Ms Bliss Park, a resident of Dallas, Texas, said if the processing centres will remain in DC and LA, it means the consulates will be even more congested.

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“The information on the embassy website is so sketchy. They promise 6-8 weeks. That’s the running joke,” she said.

Ms Felisina Ndwiga, a former officer at the Kenyan embassy in DC, agrees that trying to process a passport in the US is challenging.

Source: Daily Nation, By Chris Wamalwa

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. ISAAC KINUNGI

    February 23, 2019 at 11:12 pm

    I Mr Gitau gave Chris and example of someone living far away from consular centers DC or LA Such states are those in the middle like Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas etc.
    Those living there counting day lost and cost of travel was minimum $750. Its so costly exercise and if one has an American passport, its easier to pay $50 dollars as you will spend less the few times you go to Kenya other than wasting $750. We urge the Government to let the Embassy travel to States and our organization called Kenya Parents in USA can organize and Kenyans will only spend $75 dollars to cater for Embassy travel and accommodation.

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Africa

Kenyans are the most generous people

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Despite the erupting cases of corruption, news of murders and updates of hopelessness that litter social media pages, Kenyans remain the happiest people in East Africa.

According to the 2019 survey released by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network on Wednesday, Kenya outperformed East African nations when parameters of happiness were measured using global standards.T

he report that was released to mark the World Happiness Day bases its ranking on six key variables: gross domestic product per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity and freedom from corruption.

This year’s focus was on how community affects happiness, how it has been changing over the years, and how information technology, governance and social norms influence communities.

Social systems

The chief researcher John Helliwell had an explanation for what makes countries like Kenya happy despite the many sad events that dominate their news.

“What stands out about the happiest and most well connected societies is their resilience and ability to deal with bad things,” said Helliwell.

Interesting to note from the survey is that social systems in Kenya seem to be crumbling. Compared to the 2018 report, more Kenyans responded in negative when asked: “If you were in trouble, do you have relatives or friends you can count on to help you whenever you need them?”

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source:standard.co.ke

 

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Africa

PHOTOS: Uhuru all smiles in Namibia as drought crisis persists in Kenya

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President Uhuru Kenyatta led a high-powered delegation to attend Namibia’s independence day celebrations, despite the raging drought crisis in the country.

Pictures shared on the State House social media accounts show the head of state and those on his entourage all smiles during the celebrations that were held at the Independence Stadium in Windhoek.

President Uhuru Kenyatta arrives at the Independence Stadium in Windhoek to Namibia’s independence day celebrations. PHOTO | COURTESY

“President @UKenyatta arrives at the Independence Stadium in Windhoek to join the people of Namibia for celebrations to mark 29 years of their country’s independence,” read the caption.

Some of those in his delegation included his daughter Ngina, personal assistant Jomo Gecaga, ministers Monica Juma (Foreign Affairs), James Macharia (Transport) and Mwangi Kiunjuri (Agriculture), among others.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is welcomed at the Independence Stadium in Windhoek to Namibia’s independence day celebrations. PHOTO | COURTESY

At least 10 people have been reported dead as a result of the drought that has hit a number of counties.

The worst-hit are Baringo, Turkana and West Pokot.

Senior government officials, including Deputy President William Ruto, Interior CS Fred Matiang’i and his Devolution counterpart Eugene Wamalwa have, however, claimed that no Kenyan has died from starvation. They say the situation is under control.

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SOURCE: Nairobi News

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Africa

Zambia High Commissioner dies while receiving treatment in Nairobi

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Zambia High Commissioner to Kenya, Her Excellency Brenda Muntemba-Sichilembe has died.

The 49-year old High Commissioner has been receiving treatment since she was involved in a fatal road accident at Machakos on February 26.

Foreign PS Macharia Kamau has confirmed the death.

Ms Muntemba-Sichilembe was initially admitted at the Machakos Level 5 Hospital, and then flown to Nairobi and operated on to stem internal bleeding where she was admitted in Intensive care unit (ICU).

Prior to her appointment to this role, she served as Chief Program Officer at UNESCO in Zambia.

More to follow…

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