The African Union (AU) has finally launched its continental passport. With the goal of helping to “realize the dream of visa-free travel for African citizens within their own continent by 2020“, AU leaders hope this will be a key stroke in boosting integration and free movement in Africa.
The African Union (AU) passport was on Sunday launched at the opening ceremony of the 27th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the AU Summit in Kigali, Rwanda.
The Assembly is made up of heads of states and governments of the 54 member states of the AU.
The AU Commission’s Chairperson, Dr Dlamini Zuma, presented the passport to the Chairperson of the union, President Idriss Deby of Chad and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda.
Zuma, in her address, said the passport was a landmark achievement of the commission and was intended to help with regional integration of people of the continent.
She said Africa was full of hope, possibility and optimism and she was sure that the commission
would achieve its aim of a better Africa.
She also added that the body has agreed
“to create the conditions for member states to issue the passport to their citizens, within their national policies,as and when they are ready.”
Even though the African Union cites the launch of the passport as a major effort towards opening borders across the continent, there are still questions to be asked of its effectiveness.
For one, a much quicker way to make travel easier for Africans immediately could be urging countries to ease restrictive visa requirements like some,most recently Ghana, have done. Also, while it might make visas more accessible for Africans, brandishing an African Union passport at airline counters will not make air travel any cheaper. With costs of flights being a major impediment to free movement and trade, opening air routes between the continent’s biggest markets will not only drive down ticket prices butalso boost local economies.