The African Union has announced the launch of a common Electronic African Passport that will grant visa-free access to all 54 member states. The e-passport will be unveiled at the AU Summit in Kigali, Rwanda in July, and will at first be issued to heads of state and home affairs officials in AU countries.
According to the AU, the project was first agreed upon in 2014, and falls squarely within the framework of Africa’s 2063 Agenda. It has the specific aim of facilitating free movement of persons, goods and services around the continent – in order to foster intra-Africa trade, integration and socio-economic development.
In order for all the recipients to acquire the e-passports, they are strongly encouraged to comply with the needed paper work required to accelerate the processing lead time. Currently, just 13 African states are open to all African citizens without advance visas, with many placing severe restrictions on travel.
The Electronic African passport will grant visa-free access to countries like South Africa, Egypt, Angola, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria and others. The aim of the union is to distribute the passports to all African citizens by 2018.
Commenting on the new development, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, described the initiative as symbolic and significant, calling it a “steady step toward the objective of creating a strong, prosperous and integrated Africa, driven by its own citizens and capable of taking its rightful place on the world stage.”