Travelling across Africa set to become a lot easier with new AU passport

Details on the design, production, and issuance of this long-awaited unified passport will be released in February 2019.

The AU passport offers easy access across Africa
  • The AU passport was first revealed in 2016
  • Three years later and it finally looks like the long-awaited unified passport will soon be ready for use
  • With this, African travellers can move around the continent easily.

Travelling across Africa is about to become a lot easier with the arrival of the new African Union passport.

According to the Chairperson of the Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the details of the long-awaited single passport for all African travellers will be revealed next month. 

He made this important announcement in his New Year's Message writing "I am pleased to stress that, in February 2019, in Addis Ababa, at the 32nd Summit of our Union, the Commission will present, for adoption, guidelines on the design, production and issuance of the African passport."

Noting how challenging movement around the continent can be for Africans, the AU chairperson commended some of the countries for implementing the visa-free policy.

"I congratulate those Member States that have taken measures to ease the procedures for the entry of African nationals into their territories, and urge those that have not yet done so to join this growing momentum," he said. 

Mahamat added, "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."

This comes three years after the African Union passport was first launched in 2016.

Despite sharing one continent- Africa, travelling within its 54 countries is known to be quite difficult.

In 2016, a report by the African Development Bank (AfDB) showed that the majority (55%)of African countries require visas with 25% offering visas on arrival. At the time, only 20% permitted visa-free access.

It concluded that foreigners, "North Americans have easier travel access to the continent than African themselves."

Two years later, the 2018 Africa Visa Openness Index showed that over half of the continent still require visas. Right now, only Seychelles and Benin offer visa-free travel to all African travellers. 

With the coming of this AU passport, Africans can finally travel across the continent visa and hassle-free. 

As the AU said while introducing the passport in 2016, "The scene seems to be set to realize the dream of visa-free travel for African citizens within their own continent by 2020."

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