The African Union says that it will launch an electronic African Passport in July, giving holders visa-free access to all 54 AU member states.
According to the AU, the flagship project was first agreed upon in 2014, and falls squarely within the framework of Africa’s Agenda 2063.
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.
The 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.
The aim is to distribute the passports to all African citizens by 2018 – though this target is unlikely to be met, accordingly analysts, as many African countries do not have the means or access to the biometric systems needed to register the passports.
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.”
The common passport will grant visa-free access to all 54 AU member states, including South Africa, Egypt, Angola, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria and others.