Prior to year 2007, statutory operations of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), with particular reference to the issuance of international passports and such other immigration activities were conducted manually and therefore characterised by myriad of problems including but not limited to:
· Multiple acquisition of passports
· Long delays to acquire an international passport
· Perennial duplications of passport payment
· Poor record keeping
· Inefficient revenue management
· High incidence of systemic corruption
· Lack of accountability and transparency
· Massive revenue leakages
These problems did not only hinder service delivery and loss of revenue to the Federal Government, they also led to public apathy and general discontent.
Desirous of curbing these nagging problems and delivering on its mandate, the Nigeria Immigration Service opted for the deployment of an Enterprise System-wide Platform otherwise known as eImmigration, to deliver effective and more efficient services. The main objective of the new platform is to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the service, leveraging on global best practices for service delivery thus helping to transform the NIS into a more modern, compact, and transparent Federal Agency offering faster, better, easier and more efficient services across the board for the benefit of the citizens.
The eImmigration project as conceptualized by NeGSt (includes online registration, payment and appointment booking as well as visa biometric data capture but excludes passport booklet production and distribution) thus provided the NIS the necessary platform to transition smoothly from the analogue to the digital ecosystem. Following series of consultations and practical demonstrations of its proof of concept to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in October 2006 as a Public Private Partnership (PPP) project after which the implementation commenced in March 2007.
ePassport is the flagship consultancy project of NeGSt. The idea was conceptualized in 2007 after an 18-month extensive diagnostic survey of Federal Government Ministries Departments and Agencies which confirmed the Nigeria Immigration Service as a frontline agency that was ready for implementation of eGovernment initiatives.
Since the selection of the Service Provider through a transparent peer review exercise, completion of the Due Process certification and approval by the Federal Executive Council, the ePassport project has undergone transformations in its standard operating procedure (SoP) and structure through our oversight interventions. The periodic Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) of the operations and procedural guidelines is the primary feeding line for the continuous improvement requirement of the project. NeGSt therefore pays attention to the assigned consultancy work with a view to making an impact on the service delivery and Ease of Doing Business protocol of the World Bank.
The biometric data capture of each applicant has since been extended to the following cities across the globe, namely: Amsterdam, Ankara, Atlanta, Beijing, Cairo, Canada, Cape Town, Dubai, Guangzhou, Houston, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Mumbai, New Delhi, New York, Paris, Rome, Shanghai, The Hague and Washington DC.
Proper policing of the platform has led to the underlisted improvements in the ePassport solution. They include:
· Integration of payment and issuance sub-system to guarantee passport payment validation and integrity
· Astronomical increase in Government revenue on from N500m to over N3 billion per annum
· Individuals can no longer procure multiple passports for questionable transactions
· Serving as an integration platform for effective reconciliation and accountability
· Passport Booklet Serialization for better accountability.
The electronic visa offering (eVisa) of the Nigerian eImmigration project has emerged as one of the most innovative services implemented in the area of freedom of movement and people-to-people contact.
eVisa allows the management of the visa application process to take place entirely in a virtual environment. Everything is done via the world wide web. The visa application and supporting documents are submitted online, the payment is made online and the decision on the application is also communicated online. Though in the Nigeria’s eVisa project, applicants with questionable purpose of travel or identity are required to present themselves for a face-to-face interview. All visa applicants are however, required to present themselves for biometric data capture with the exception of members of the diplomatic community as a gesture of reciprocity.
The eVisa project is part of a larger Nigeria’s eImmigration project, its benefits include an enhanced traveler experience and significant reduction in administration costs, without compromising border security.
As the Consultant to the Nigerian biometric visa project, NeGSt continues to perform its role as the technical interface between Government and the Service Provider by ensuring that upgrades, updates, and routine maintenance services are carried out on software applications, security, data protection, network reliability and hardware optimization to meet global best practices. In this role, NeGSt continues to monitor, evaluate and approve proposed technical improvements, sign-off on technical specifications, standardization, variety reduction, review processes and systems upgrade and perform mandatory certification checks for all software, hardware and network components at all times to ensure that the project is running at optimum level on 24/7availability so as to ensure hack free and fraud proof routinary operation, while also continuing to evolve practical, technical strategies that mainstreams constant service improvement.
Visa on Arrival (VoA)
VoA at entry points into Nigeria is one of the reform initiatives of government being supported by NeGSt. It is targeted at enhancing Nigeria’s position in the Ease-of-Doing business index of the World Bank; as well as to attract foreign direct investments and skilled professionals into the country. It is also designed to serve the interests of would-be visitors or tourists from countries where Nigeria does not presently operate Consular service.
The Nigerian eVisa project has contributed significantly to the enhancement of Nigeria’s position in the Ease-of-Doing Business rating of the World Bank. This is thanks to NeGSt scrupulous policing of data capture and visa issuance officials stationed in foreign embassies.