The long-awaited African passport was launched in Kigali, Rwanda, at the 27th Summit of the African Union (AU). The outgoing Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Mrs Dlamini Zuma, issued the first two copies to the Chairperson of the AU and Chadian President, Idris Deby and Rwandan President, Paul Kagame.
Zuma said even though the initial plan was to issue the passport to heads of state, foreign affairs ministers and diplomats, the AU had been overwhelmed by calls from many who want to share in the privilege of holding the passport.
She said member-states should accept the challenge of issuing the passports to their nationals within their systems.
She said the commission had championed the rights of women, youth involvement in the continent’s development strides into the future and the launch of the African passport.
Mrs Zuma challenged the next commission to work towards achieving the 2063 agenda already set.
The AU is expected to choose a new chairperson to run the affairs of the commission for the next four years.
The electronic passport is proposed as an anecdote for dissolving border restrictions, thus building greater opportunities for trade within the continent, in hopes of boosting the overall economy.
Anyone with an A.U. passport would be allowed to travel freely within the union’s 54 countries without a visa. Government officials and heads of state at the A.U. headquarters in Ethiopia, will be the first to use the all-Africa passport, which is expected to expand to all citizens in 2018.
Despite the economic benefits, the passport could have an opposite effect given the threat of terrorism. The Motherland continues to be vulnerable to increased acts of terror, with recent attacks in Nigeria, Somalia, Kenya, and the Ivory Coast.