The government of Uganda is set to begin issuing new biometric passports early next year in a bid to fight insecurity in the East African country.

"Cases of passport fraud are on the increase," Internal Affairs Minister Gen. Aronda Nyakairima told Anadolu Agency.

He said passport forgery was a brisk business on Kampala's Nkurumah and Nasser streets, allowing anyone to obtain multiple travel documents.

"[A person] exists as 'so and so' from Entebbe," said Nyakairima. "As he is exiting through Dar es Salaam [in Tanzania], he has another name. And when he reaches London, he is someone else."

He asserted that criminals come to Uganda using aliases and forged documents.

Nyakairima cited the case of Jamilu Mukulu, head of the Allied Democratic Forces rebel group, who was detained in Nairobi in 2012.

"We found him with 52 passports," the minister recalled. "These are the masterminds of insecurity in our country and the region."

He went on to note that, in many cases, when passports are issued, immigration officials rely on recommendations from local council officials.

"This means that even foreigners with criminal records can easily use Ugandan travel documents," said Nyakairima.

He believes the e-passport scheme will help close these loopholes.

"If we have these biometric passports, most of these criminals will not [be able] to escape, thanks to the technological advances," Nyakairima told AA.

"Once this passport is put in a machine and the data comes out, that data should be about you," said Nyakairima.

"But also, the security features of this passport will be highly advanced, with advanced technologies of biometrics," he added.

The e-passport, or electronic passport, contains biometric information that can be used to authenticate the holder's identity.

It uses smart card technology, including a microprocessor chip and antenna embedded within the passport itself.

The e-passport scheme, set to begin in January, will cost some 27.4 billion Ugandan shillings (roughly $10.2 million).

In June of this year, the five East African Community (EAC) member states agreed to begin issuing a common biometric passport.

The EAC groups Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

Until now, only Burundi has issued its citizens with e-passports.

Anadolu Agency