A month ago, the African Union announced it was set to launch an African Union passport to facilitate the movement of people on the continent and we thought it was taking us for a ride.
Exactly a month later, at the 27th Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government in Kigali Rwanda, the passport was unveiled. H.E. Mr. Idriss Deby Itno, Chairperson of the AU and President of the Republic of Chad, and President Paul Kagame of the Republic of Rwanda received the first passports handed to them by the Chairperson of the AU Commission, H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
“I feel deeply and proudly a true son of Africa after receiving this passport”, said President Idriss Deby while stressing the importance of fast tracking integration on the continent to achieve socio-economic growth for the wellbeing of the African citizens.
Several African countries have restrictions against each other’s citizens thereby stifling trade and investments internally and externally. The passport will help break the growing protectionism, open up markets beyond regional trading blocks and neighbours.
The AU Chairperson H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma noted that the Africa we have today is full of hope, possibility and optimism, but is also a cause of anguish in some areas, where Africans are desperately yearning for peace and the space to rebuild their lives.
“In our years of service to the AU Member States and to the Peoples of Africa, we built on the foundations of those that went before us, to build a Union of the People by engaging with the civil society and the citizens. We worked tirelessly to ensure that we leave institutions more effective than what we found. This work is not yet complete, and in our handover to the incoming Commission once elected, we shall highlight both the achievements and the challenges still remaining.”
There’s no evidence that local passports will be phased out. If they do; users will have to wait longer for the passports awaiting all the AU member presidents to be given their pairs even if they might never use them.