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Posted on Monday, 18 July 2016 14:10

AU launches African passport

By Godfrey Olukya

File photo©ReutersThe African Union (AU) on Monday launched its continental passport at a ceremony witnessed by over 40 heads of state meeting at the 27th AU summit in Rwanda's capital, Kigali.

The launching of the passport, deemed by the AU as "a symbolic act of Pan-Africanism" was officiated by the outgoing chairperson of the African Union Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

a symbolic act of Pan-Africanism

Dlamini Zuma presented the first two passports to African Union's current chairman, President Idriss Deby of Chad and Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

She said heads of state, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and ambassadors will be the first beneficiaries of the African passports.

Dlamini-Zuma said the African passport, which falls within the framework of Africa's Agenda 2063, will improve the movement of Africans from one country to another and foster a boom in intra-Africa trade.

Deby said he feels "deeply and proudly a true son of Africa after receiving this passport" and called for a faster continental integration for socio-economic growth.

The initiative was first agreed upon in 2014 and aims to facilitate free movement of persons, goods and services in the continent.

Ahead of the launching ceremony, Dlamini-Zuma said the initiative was a "steady step toward the objective of creating a strong, prosperous and integrated Africa, driven by its own citizens and capable of taking its rightful place on the world stage".

Until 2018, when the new continental passport will be made available to ordinary citizens from Africa's 53 countries, Africans will continue using passports issued by their countries.

The African Union passport follows passports issued by the 16-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the East African Community (EAC), comprising of six countries.

Kagame said Africans should take a moment to reflect together on the meaning and purpose of unity, which is first, the principle of AU.



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