African Union Launches Travel Passport

Rwandan president Paul Kagame and Chad President Idriss Deby received the first two African Union passports
Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Chad President Idriss Deby received the first two African Union passports

One of the highlights of the 27th Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government which was held between July 17 and 18 in Kigali, Rwanda, was the launch of the AU passport.

Analysts say the new AU passport which was launched during the opening ceremony of the summit, represents a symbolic and historic chapter in the Pan-African movement.

The idea behind the passport, which was launched last weekend, is for all African citizens to be able to travel throughout the continent without visas.

Chairperson of the AU and President of the Republic of Chad, Idris Deby, and President Paul Kagame of the Republic of Rwanda received the first passports handed to them by the head of the AU Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

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“I feel deeply and proudly a true son of Africa after receiving this passport”, President Deby said, stressing the importance of fast-tracking integration on the continent to achieve socio-economic growth for the wellbeing of African citizens.

Another highlight of the Assembly was the decision taken during the Ministerial retreat, which took place on the July 16, underscoring the need for the Continent to fully finance itself as well as its peace and security missions, among others.

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President Deby expressed his profound gratitude to the government of Rwanda for hosting the summit, observing that the African Union “is facing emergency issues on a daily basis.” These issues, he stated, required instant and effective mechanisms to address them.

According to BBC Africa, there are two passports – one issued by the African Union for officials and people who travel a lot on business, and the other by individual countries for everyone else.

Some heads of state have already been given an African Union passport. The full roll-out for African citizens is supposed to happen by the end of 2018.

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However, a lot of Africans took to the social media to criticize the new initiative with many arguing that the passports should not be issued to the “elite” first.

Others complained that it would have been cheaper to have an agreement about visa-free travel, adding that there were more important things to worry about in Africa, including malnutrition, poverty and improved education.

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