The move to introduce a common passport that will grant visa-free access to all African countries inched closer with an announcement that African Union will present its recommendations during its 32nd summit that will be held in Addis Ababa on 23 February.
Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, said that the commission would present, for adoption, guidelines on the design, production and issuance of the African passport “the materialisation of which will take us one step closer to the long-held dream of complete free movement across the continent” during his New Year’s Message.
This is in line with Agenda 2063 action plan, which seeks to integrate the continent and ease restrictions on travel among the 54 member states.
“In this context, the Commission will continue to pay particular attention to the free movement of persons, as the persisting obstacles to our citizens’ movement within their own continent are simply unacceptable,” he said.
Coming up in 2019, #AU Commission will present, for adoption, guidelines on the design, production & issuance of the #African #passport, taking us one step closer to the long-held dream of complete free movement across the continent.
— Kwesi Quartey. (@AU_KwesiQuartey) January 2, 2019
The continental integration process was also boosted in January 2018 when the Heads of State and Government launched the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) in Addis Ababa.
Also, during the Extraordinary Summit held in March in Kigali, there was the opening for signature of the Agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment.
To date, 27 Member States have joined the SAATM. The Agreement on the AfCFTA has been signed by 49 Member States and has already been ratified by 14 of them, while the Free Movement Protocol, which garnered 32 signatures, has only one ratification.
“The Commission will intensify its efforts to ensure the early entry into force of these instruments and the accession of all Member States to the SAATM,” added Mr Faki.
The AU passport was first unveiled on July 17, 2016, at the 27th African Union Summit in Kigali, Rwanda where they were issued to heads of state and senior government officials.
It bears red with gold embroidered colour, and is inscribed in five languages: English, French, Arabic, Portuguese and Swahili.
AU aims to distribute them to all African citizens by 2020.