Bangladesh and Germany on Thursday signed a government-to-government agreement on e-passport following the government’s decision to issue electronic passports alongside the machine readable passports (MRP) for the citizens of the country.
Director General of Immigration and Passports Department Maj Gen Md Masud Rezwan and chief executive officer of Veridos Hans Wolfgang Kunz signed the deal on behalf of their respective sides at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) in the city.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan and German Foreign Minister of State Niels Annen witnessed the MoU signing.
The long-term €340mn contract covers the entire value-chain for e-Passports – from security paper right through to e-Gates. The contract will run for 12 years.
The solution includes the set-up of a local passport factory with high-tech equipment.
The project will ease travel for Bangladeshi citizens and increase border control efficiency, says the German side.
World-leading identity solutions provider Veridos is a joint venture of Giesecke+Devrient and state-owned Bundesdruckerei GmbH.
Addressing the programme, Asaduzzaman said, “It’s a commitment between the heads of the governments of Bangladesh and Germany to introduce e-passport. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina signed an MoU with Germany on February 18, 2017.”
“Through the signing of the agreement, we’re moving towards one step ahead,” the minister said.
Besides, e-gates will be installed at every airport and land port across the country, he said.
The government took the initiative to introduce e-passport for easing the immigration activities easily, the minister added.
The Ministry of Home Affairs of Bangladesh, acting through the Department of Immigration and Passport (DIP), commissioned Veridos with the supply, installation, and implementation of next generation electronic passports and border control systems in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh will move from machine readable to advanced electronic travel documents that meet the highest security standards.
This includes high-tech colour personalisation technology to ensure the ultimate colour brilliance of each ePassport holder’s image, improving visual verification.
With more than 160 million inhabitants, Bangladesh is the world’s eighth most populous country and will provide the highest output of passports with colour photos worldwide.
Masud Rezwan said Bangladeshi citizens will get benefits from the ICAO-compliant ePassports with convenient and secure travel.
“With Veridos’s unique solution portfolio for the entire value chain for passports and their ID production expertise, we’ve found the perfect company to implement this turnkey project. With their support, we can enhance the technology by which we can assemble the ePassport booklets in Bangladesh. This creates highly skilled jobs and know-how transfer with Germany,” he said.
Minister Niels Annen said through the technological partnership with Germany, Bangladesh will gain crucial expertise to prepare it for various challenges, whether they are talking about fighting counterfeit ID documents or terrorism.
“Furthermore, a comprehensive transfer of technology and capacity-building in Bangladesh will take place. As a result of our cooperation, Bangladeshi passport holders will soon become the owners of one of the most sophisticated and secure types of passport in the world,” he said.
Wolfgang Kunz said they are delighted to support Bangladesh in their transition to tamper-proof ePassports.
“In addition, we’ll provide key public infrastructure and local document production. At the same time, we’ll establish state-of-the-art border control infrastructure for automated border control at all international airports, seaports, and land ports in the country.”
On June 21, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved a project to issue e-passports alongside the existing MRPs to accommodate international demand as some countries, including Germany, do not accept MRPs.
The project titled ‘Introduction of e-Passport and Automated Border Control Management in Bangladesh’ will be implemented from July 2018 to June 2028 with the government’s own financing.