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.
— Dr Dlamini Zuma (@DlaminiZuma) July 17, 2016
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.
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.
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.
— Idriss Ali Nassah (@mynassah) July 17, 2016
The African Union passport is a metaphor for the African Rising narrative. I.e. Only applicable to a very select few.
— Ryan Cummings (@Pol_Sec_Analyst) July 17, 2016
— Yacine Bio Tchané (@yacinebtchane) July 18, 2016
What problem is the African Passport solving that cannot be addressed by simplified / removed visa processes & requirements?
— Ivar The Boneless (@roomthinker) July 18, 2016
— Comrade Otoa (@Comrade_Otoa) July 18, 2016
African passports for African Presidents & diplomats!When was the last time a head of state was stopped at the airport for lack of passport?
— Antetokounmpo (@TrupyWupy) July 18, 2016
#African passport is a great move. I just hope it does not take years to roll out. It will make travelling in Africa as an African EASIER
— harumutasa/aljazeera (@harumutasa) July 17, 2016
African passport? I think it's a good idea. It'll bring us together
— okatakyie Kwame (@asantedehye3) July 18, 2016
@SakinaKamwendo Congratulations to the AU and the entire continent on the introduction of the single passport for African travellers
— Pat Kumalo (@KumaloPatricia) July 18, 2016