Zimbabwe Leads Africa in Unmanned Border Post Technology

How biometric data on the e-passport will revolutionise border crossing in Zimbabwe

by Motoni Olodun

Zimbabwe is set to become the first African country to have an unmanned border post by the end of next year, a move that will revolutionize the way travelers enter and exit the country.

The unmanned border post, which will be located at the Beitbridge border crossing with South Africa, will use biometric data recorded on the e-passport, such as fingerprints and facial recognition, to verify the identity of the traveler. The traveler’s face and fingerprints will be scanned and compared with the information on the passport chip. Once the identity has been verified, the boom will lift and the traveler will be allowed to pass through the border without having to interact with any immigration or customs officials.

The system is expected to reduce waiting times, streamline the process of border crossing, and enhance security. It will also reduce the risk of corruption, fraud, and human trafficking, as well as the spread of diseases.

The project is part of the government’s efforts to modernize the country’s border posts and facilitate trade and tourism. Zimbabwe recently launched the e-passport, which has enhanced security features and is compliant with international standards. The e-passport costs US$120 for the ordinary one and US$220 for the emergency one and is issued within seven and three working days respectively.

The e-passport is also compatible with the electronic visa system, which allows travelers from 65 countries to apply for a visa online and receive it within three days. The e-visa system, which was introduced in 2022, has boosted the number of tourists visiting Zimbabwe, especially from China, India, and the United States.

Zimbabwe is not the only country that is embracing the unmanned border post technology. Dubai, which pioneered the concept in 2017, has installed smart gates at its airports that allow travelers to use their smartphones or Emirates ID cards to pass through immigration. Canada also has a Remote Area Border Crossing Program that allows certain travelers to cross the border into Canada in select remote areas using a permit that does not require physical presence at a port of entry.

According to the World Economic Forum, unmanned border posts are part of the future of travel, as they offer convenience, efficiency, and security to travelers and authorities. However, they also pose some challenges, such as privacy, data protection, and cyberattacks. Therefore, the implementation of such systems requires careful planning, regulation, and oversight.

Zimbabwe’s Minister of Finance, Economic Development, and Investment Promotion, Professor Mthuli Ncube, said the unmanned border post project is a milestone for the country and the continent. He said the project will improve the country’s competitiveness and attractiveness as a destination for trade and tourism. He also said the project will create jobs and opportunities for local businesses and entrepreneurs.

“We are proud to be the first country in Africa to have an unmanned border post. This is a testament to our vision of becoming an upper-middle-income economy by 2030. We are committed to investing in digital infrastructure and innovation that will transform our economy and society,” he said.

Source: NewsdzeZimbabwe

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