Natasha Chamba, Business Reporter
THE African Union (AU) will this year unveil the design for a single passport for all Africans which is aimed at promoting intra-Africa trade.
In a statement AU commission chairperson, Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat said at the upcoming 32nd edition summit of the AU, the commission will present guidelines on the design of the African passport.
“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, the materialisation of which will take us one step closer to the long-held dream of complete free movement across the continent,” he said.
Mr Mahamat said the unified passport was aimed at spurring economic growth within the continent by promoting intra-Africa trade, and eventually creating a “continent with seamless borders.”
The unified visa was first introduced in 2016, while the African passport was still exclusive to heads of States and other diplomats.
Immigration experts from member states met in July last year in Nairobi, Kenya to deliberate on the document’s technical specifications, security features and how best to unroll it across the continent.
Sceptics have often pointed out that the move would be challenging, with many African states already resistant to migrants and refugees.
Against this background, some countries were silently tightening their visa rules.
Mr Mahamat said the AU will push for more integration.
“The AU will remain resolute in the fight against xenophobia and racism, which are manifest in migration policies in some parts of the world and whose rise is one of the facets of unilateralism.
“In this regard, the AU reaffirms its full support for the Global Compact on Migration agreed to in Marrakesh, Morocco, this month and the persisting obstacles to our citizens’ movement within their own continent are simply unacceptable,” he said.
The commission’s chairperson said Africa has developed a roadmap for Agenda 2063 that clearly articulates the path forward for its emergence while 2019 offers the opportunity to break the multiple chains that hinder the actualisation of the continent’s rich potential.
The announcement comes hard on the heels of the AU’s launch of a single air market initiative to improve connectivity and a free trade agreement to establish a common market for goods and services.