How Significant is PS Julius Bitok delegation to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Public Key Directory (PKD) Ceremony for Kenya in Montrea

by Rofina Media
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PS Julius Bitok
  • PS Julius Bitok

  • Evelyn Cheluget

  • Mr. Juan Carlos Salazar

It has now emerged that the Principal Secretary for Immigration and Citizen Services, Amb. (Prof) Julius Bitok, has successfully led a delegation of Kenyan officials to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Public Key Directory (PKD) Ceremony for Kenya in Montreal, Canada.

According to our foreign correspondent, the PS was accompanied by Evelyn Cheluget, who is acting Director General of Immigration Services.

This significant event involved the depositing of Kenya’s electronic signature for the e-Passport into the ICAO PKD database, a crucial step towards facilitating electronic validation of e-Passports globally. On this occasion, we had the privilege of paying a courtesy call to Mr. Juan Carlos Salazar, the Secretary-General of ICAO. Our discussion centered on Kenya’s active engagement in global civil aviation.

In attendance were Immaculate Wambua, the High Commissioner to Canada, and Ms. Charity Musila, Kenya’s Alternative Representative to ICAO, alongside other technical officers.

PS Julius Bitok

PS Julius Bitok delegation to the International Civil Aviation Organization

ICAO PKD is a database maintained by the ICAO that holds keys related to the authentication of e-passport information. The ICAO PKD is a central repository for exchanging the information required to authenticate electronic machine-readable travel documents (eMRTDs), such as ePassport’s. The security and facilitation advantages of e-passports are grounded in the presence of an integrated closed-circuit chip that holds information of the holder and electronic security features.
The benefits of e-passport can only be realized when border control points are able to authenticate the chip. If the chip is not authenticated at border control, the e-passport has little advantage over a traditional, non-electronic passport. Authentication of an e-passport is the process of validating the authenticity and integrity of an e-passport by verifying the digital signature on the chip.
To authenticate the e-passport of a foreign traveler, the receiving state must have access to certain information from the issuing state. This would require states to exchange information through bilateral agreements. If bilateral agreements were to be used, the volume of information being exchanged would result in a highly complex and ineffective system. In recognition of this complexity, ICAO PKD provided a platform where states upload their own information and download that of other states without going the bilateral way.
Each state issuing an e-passport establishes a single Country Signing Certification Authority (CSCA) as its national trust point in the context of e-passports. The CSCA certificate containing the CSCA’s public key for verification of Document Signer Certificates (DSC) and other PKD contents must be distributed securely to ICAO and all participants in PKD. The CSCA will be securely stored within the ICAO PKD System.
The participating state representative shall be present at the key ceremony together with the senior officials of ICAO to witness the import of the CSCA certificate into the secure PKD facilities at the ICAO Operations Center. The process by which a CSCA is imported into the ICAO PKD is known as a key ceremony. These key ceremonies are done at the ICAO HQ in Montreal by the ICAO PKD office. The CSCA is updated every three to five years but the formal ceremony is only done on initial submission; subsequent updates are carried out by designated technical personnel of the state and ICAO PKD staff,
Kenya joined ICAO PKD in Dec 2022, and has up to 15 months from the joining date to have it’s certificate imported.
All the preliminary arrangements have been made, and ICAO is ready to receive Kenya for the ceremony on February 13, 2024.

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