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African Union AU set to launch all-Africa passport

According to a statement by the AU, it expects to make the passports available to all African citizens by 2018.

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African Union play

A Nigerian officer holds passports for his troops preparing to board a U.S. military plane in the Nigerian capital of Abuja.

(Reuters/Finbarr O'Reilly FOR/SM)

In its bid for better integration of African nations, the African Union (AU) is set to launch a common passport that will grant visa-free access to all 54 member states, CNN reports.

The electronic passports, report said, will be unveiled at the AU summit in Kigali, Rwanda, by the end of July, 2016, and would be issued to heads of state and senior officials.

According to a statement by the AU, it expects to make the passports available to all African citizens by 2018.

"This flagship project has the specific aim of facilitating free movement of persons, goods and services around the continent - in order to foster intra-Africa trade, integration and socio-economic development," the Union said in the statement.

Presently, only 13 African countries are open to all African citizens without prior visas, as many place strict restrictions on travel processes to their countries.

The African Development Bank, had in its recent report, advised that making entrance requirements easy would support economic growth, citing the case of Rwanda, which saw GDP and tourism revenues climb after abolishing visas.

On opening African borders, AU Director for Political Affairs, Dr. Khabele Matlosa, said it will reduce the risk of African youths struggling to travel to Europe on boasts.

"We have a problem now that young people are risking their lives to cross the Sahara Desert or travel on boats to Europe,. If we open opportunities in Africa we reduce that risk," Matlosa said.

READ: African Union chief to step down in July, linked to ANC leadership

He however admits that meeting the target of providing the passports to all citizens by 2018 is not feasible, noting it may take several years later before it circulates.

 

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