The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, has said that the Ghana Card is not a replacement for the country’s biometric passport.
According to her, the card could not be used to travel to other countries within or outside ECOWAS.
"It must be underscored that the passport, together with the travel certificate, is the only approved travel document for Ghanaians that is internationally recognised," the minister added.
Ms Botchwey made this known on the floor of Parliament yesterday in response to questions by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Salaga South, Zuwera Mohammed Ibrahimah, on whether Ghanaians no longer needed the passport to travel and also whether the Ghana Card now represented the Ghanaian passport.
Ms Botchwey further said her outfit was in discussions with ECOWAS member states and the nation's bilateral partners for the Ghana Card to be used as a travel document.
"Mr Speaker, at the moment, the Ghana Card cannot be used for travels to other countries, either within or outside ECOWAS, as that will require bilateral agreements with the countries for their authorities to accept the card as a travel document," she told the House.
The minister said although the card bore the technical features of an e-passport, there was still a long way to go for it to be recognised as such.
On differences between the card and the e-passport, Ms Botchwey said an e-passport is an international travel document which contains the bio-data of its holder on a microchip and robust security features, while the Ghana Card, as defined in Section 19 of the National Identification Authority Act, 2006 (Act 707), is "an identity card with a personal identification number issued by the authority for purposes of identification of a person to whom the card is issued".
Therefore, she said, while the card was principally an identification document, an e-passport was essentially a travel document.
Ms Botchwey recalled that at a recent ceremony held at the Headquarters of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in Montreal, Canada, Ghana was welcomed into the ICAO Public Key Directory (PKD), a central repository needed for international travel documents.
"The congratulatory messages sent to Ghana by the ICAO following the latter's decision to join the PKD was not to suggest in any way that the Ghana Card had become an e-passport," she further stated.