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The African passport is finally here

The African Union (AU) has finally launched the long-awaited African passport as part of the bloc’s 2063 Agenda. The passport was launched during opening of the 27th AU Summit in Kigali, Rwanda. While the launch of the African passport is a welcome development, there are concerns whether AU member states will soon begin producing the African passport in accordance with their visa policies. We look at social media reactions on issuance of the African passport.

The African Union (AU) has finally launched the long-awaited African passport as part of the bloc’s 2063 Agenda. The passport was launched during opening of the 27th AU Summit in Kigali, Rwanda.

The passport is aimed at facilitating the free movement of people in the continent.

The introduction of the African passport is expected to pave the way for the AU’s 2063 Agenda for “a continent with seamless borders” to help facilitate the free movement of African citizens.

The project, which was agreed upon last year, also aims to improve intra-African trade and to ease the movement of domestic goods between member states.

President of Chad and Chairperson of the AU, Idriss Deby Itno, and President of Rwanda Paul Kagame received the first passports from the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

Commenting on the importance of fast tracking integration on the continent to achieve socio-economic growth for the wellbeing of the African citizens, President Deby said, “I feel deeply and proudly a true son of Africa after receiving this passport”.

There have been scepticism whether the African passport would materialise considering that calls by the AU for open borders have previously fallen on deaf ears.

Read: The AU’s plans for an African passport a pie in the sky?

However, it could still be a long-wait before ordinary African citizens can get the passport as the document remains the privilege of heads of government, and diplomats.

File: Outgoing Chairperson of the AU Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Photo: Reuters
File: Outgoing Chairperson of the AU Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Photo: Reuters

Member states are expected to start producing the passports in accordance with their national visa policies.

The AU Commission Chairperson, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma noted on Twitter, “We suggest to the Summit for consideration, that Member states issue the ‪#AfricanPassport to their citizens, within their national policies”.

However, the fact that the issuance of African passport is aligned to national visa policies has raised the scepticism whether African citizens will soon start using the travel document considering the slow implementation of a similar proposal. The 30-day visa-on-arrival policy, which AU member states are expected to implement has been sluggish. Only a few countries have implemented the visa-on-arrival policy (these include Rwanda, Mauritius and Ghana).

According to the African Development Bank (AfDB) Index, Africa remains largely closed off to African travellers and on average, “Africans need visas to travel to 55% of other African countries, can get visas on arrival in only 25% of other countries and don’t need a visa to travel to just 20% of other countries on the continent”.

Social media reactions on issuance of the African passport.

 

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