Unmanned border posts by next year

Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube

Zimbabwe is set to become the first country apart from Dubai to have an unmanned border post by the end of next year, which will see travellers entering and exiting the country using their e-passports and having fingerprints and faces scanned without having to go through the traditional manned border control point.

This system uses biometric data recorded on the passport, such as fingerprints and facial recognition, to verify the identity of the traveller whose face and fingerprints are scanned and compared.

Once the traveller’s identity has been verified, the boom lifts and they are allowed to pass through the unmanned border post.

Justifying the proposed passport fee hike during last Thursday’s National Assembly Budget debate, Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said the high fee will go towards full digitisation of the country’s border posts, although he did agree to reduce the fee from US$200 for an ordinary passport to US$150.

“On passport fees, we have listened carefully to the contributions from the Portfolio Chairpersons and National Assembly members that the US$200 is on the high side.

“We agree with that.

“It is just that when we were having the discussions about modernising our borders, we wanted to be the first country outside Dubai to have an unmanned border post where you can walk in because now we have an e-passport with a chip in it.

“You can walk in and the gates open when your passport is read. You do not talk to anybody. We want that equipment here by the end of 2024.”

Prof Ncube said the country should embrace the modernisation agenda adding that it could only be achieved with adequate funds.

“We have to be modern. That is what motivated us. It is the kind of thinking to say we need resources to support the Ministry of Home Affairs and we thought that increasing passport fees. Someone proposed that rather than pay US$120 for an ordinary passport, let us make it US$150.”

The system has many benefits, including reducing waiting times, streamlining the process of entering and exiting the country and enhancing security.

Under the Second Republic, Zimbabwe has been stepping up efforts of digitalising the  economy.

Government has since acquired long range drones for surveillance and patrolling of the country’s to address security challenges posed by border jumpers and smugglers.


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