African Union to Launch an African Passport

As part of the African Union Agenda 2063, the African passport will create a continent without borders

July 06th, 2016

The passport will be unveiled later this month in the African Union (UA) summit in Kigali, Rwanda. At first, it will be only issued to Heads of State and other important officials. UA’s ambitious goal is to distribute the passport to all African citizens by 2018.

At a time where Brexit shakes the European Union, the African Union takes the opposite path toward more integration. With the new passport, African citizens will be able to travel without visa to all 54-member states.

The African passport is part of the African Union Agenda 2063, which aims at establishing a continental integration. The passport will ensure freedom of movement of all African citizens across Africa. So far, several African sub-regions have implemented common passports, such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). However, as of July 1st, only 13 African States do not require a visa for African citizens.

The introduction of the African passport seeks to boost intra-African trade; domestic goods will be transported much more easily between the member States. This corresponds to the World Bank’s vision for African development. World Bank Group Vice President Mahmoud Mohieldin argues, “Not only should goods and services move smoothly throughout Africa, African nations need to trade more with their neighbors.”

“This flagship project has the specific aim to facilitating free movement of persons, goods and services around the continent – in order to foster intra-Africa trade, integration and socio-economic development”, stated the African Union.

The creation of an African passport also acts as an important symbol of unity in Africa. The Chairperson of the African Union Commission Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said it is “a steady step toward the objective of creating a strong, prosperous and integrated African, driven by its own citizens and capable of taking its rightful place on the world stage”.

Some critics have risen against the African passport, saying that it will enable terrorist groups to travel easily through the continent as well as disease. The new passport would also increase competition for jobs in some states.

Also, the objective of providing the African passport to all African citizens by 2018 is seen as too ambitious. “The timeframe is too short, 2020 would be a fine effort”, says David Zounmenou, senior researcher fellow at the Institute for Security Studies.

Nevertheless, the African passport could be an effictive answer to those who critic the African Union and question the benefits of the organization.


Cultural Diplomacy News
Gaspard Fontaine, CD News