The African passport has finally been launched and the first two copies issued at the 27th African Union (AU) summit in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.
The outgoing Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr Dlamini-Zuma issued the first two copies to Chairperson of the AU and Chadian president, Idris Deby Itno and Rwandan president Paul Kagame.
Earlier today at the opening of AU summit, the AU passport was presented to the Heads of State pic.twitter.com/aUQ6Wzoep7
— Hanna Tetteh (@HannaTetteh) July 17, 2016
According to Dr. Dlamini-Zuma, even though the initial plan was to issue the passports to Heads of State, Foreign affairs ministers and top diplomats, the AU had been overwhelmed by calls from many who want to share in the privilege of holding African passports.
She therefore appealed that nations should accept the challenge to issue the African passports to their respective nationals within their own processes.
Dlamini-Zuma in delivering her last address as AU Chairperson, spoke about the successes the Commission has chalked among others championing the rights of women, the launch of the African passport and championing youth involvement in the continent’s journey into the future.
She challenged the next commission to focus on achieving all indicators towards the Agenda 2063 dream that had been set. The AU is expected to choose a new Chairperson to run the affairs of the Commission for the next four years.
The launch of the African Union Passport, considered a critical development to ease free movement of people, spur economic growth and development as well as promote Intra-African trade, is expected to take place on Sunday at the 27th African Union (AU) Summit in Kigali.
Regional trade integration has long been a strategic objective for Africa yet, despite some success in eliminating non-tariff barriers within regional communities, the African market remains highly fragmented.
A range of non-tariff and regulatory barriers still raise transaction costs and limit the movement of goods, services, people and capital across borders throughout Africa.
With the promotion of Intra-African trade, it will boost and ease doing business within African countries which later will reduce the trade deficit among African nations.
Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said the issuance of African passport was one of the African strategic initiatives to disband all movement restrictions, which will eventually create a conducive environment for inter-African trade.
“Rwanda is ready for the AU Passport issuance. Other countries will also be working towards implementation of this decision. The free movement of people in Africa will spur our economic growth,” she said during a press conference Ihursday on the sidelines of the African Union Summit at the Kigali Convention Center, in Rwanda.
The concept of unrestricted movement of persons, goods and services across regions and the continent is not new; it has been outlined in documents like the Lagos Plan of Action and the Abuja Treaty – an indication that the unhampered movement of citizens is critical for Africa’s development.