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Sunday, 01 November

PRIME Minister Hon. Manasseh Sogavare and the Minister for Commerce, Industries, Labour and Immigration Hon. Elijah Doro Muala were on Friday shown samples of Solomon Islands electronic passports and given a demo on how electronic passports are produced by the IRIS Group contracted to produce electronic passports for the country.

The IRIS Group is a Malaysian company, which pioneered the world’s first electronic passport and national multi-application smart card, with the implementation of the Malaysian Electronic Passport in March 1998 and MyKAD- the Malaysian Government Multi-purpose Card in April 2001.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce, Industries, Labour and Immigration, George Kosui who accompanied the IRIS Group team along with relevant officials from the ministry said the demo shows the company’s seriousness about the e-passport project which is now half way towards completion.

 “The e-passports will take about two to three months to complete and I’m pleased to say the project is half way towards completion,” Mr Kosui said.

“What we witness today demonstrates the seriousness of the Democratic Coalition for Change Government and the IRIS Group about this project,” he added.

He said e-passports are value for money because they make travelling convenient by allowing automated identity verification and faster immigration inspections.

The IRIS Group demo team said the company in consultation with the Department of Immigration has come up with the artwork for the e-passports and it is basically based on the features from the (Solomon Islands) coat of arms.

The demo team added that all the designs on the passport are unique to Solomon Islands and will therefore not be used in any foreign national e-passport.

E-passports are same as traditional passports except that they are embedded with a small integrated circuit or chip in the back cover. 

The chip stores:

    The same data visually displayed on the data page of the passport; 

  • A biometric identifier in the form of a digital image of the passport photograph, which will facilitate the use of face recognition technology at ports-of-entry;
  • The unique chip identification number; and
  • A digital signature to protect the stored data from alteration.

Prime Minister Sogavare in turn thanked the IRIS Group for showing him and the Minister for Commerce, Industries, Labour and Immigration samples of the Solomon Islands e-passports.

He said he is looking forward for the completion of the e-passport project which is one of the Democratic Coalition for Change Government’s initiative to ease travelling for Solomon Islands passport-holders.