Are you wondering what is the African Union Passport and how does it affect South Africans?
The African continent is set to roll out its Single Passport. In 2016, the African Union promised to deliver a continental passport to “help realize the dream of visa-free travel for African citizens within their own continent by 2020.”
With an African Union passport, your “playground” consists of the entire Africa, where each country has its own distinct culture and flavor!
The Africa Union Agenda 2063 initiative aims at transforming Africa’s laws, which remain generally restrictive on the movement of people despite political commitments to bring down borders with the view to promoting the issuance of visas by member states to enhance free movement of all African citizens in all African countries.
With access to 101 countries visa-free, South Africa currently ranks 54th on the list of the world’s best passports. This could increase going forward with the AU Passport set to ease travel restrictions across 55 Pan-African states. There is also a potential that Western countries could refuse access due to all African countries having the same passport, leading to a decrease in visa-free countries for South African passport holders.
What is the African Union
The African Union (AU) is an organization that aims to boost development, eradicate poverty and bring Africa into the global economy.
The Union was formed by Muamar el Gadafi in July 2002. They support political and economic integration among its 55 member nations.
How many countries in Africa
There are 54 independent African countries and two disputed areas, namely Somaliland and Western Sahara.
Independent African Countries:
- Algeria, Angola
- Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi
- Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo
- Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti
- Equatorial Guinea, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia
- Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau
- Lesotho, Liberia, Libya
- Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique
- Namibia, Niger, Nigeria
- Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland
- Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia
- Zambia and Zimbabwe
What is the African Union Passport
The African Union Passport is a common passport document that is set to replace existing nationally issued African Union member state passports. These passports form part of the AU’s Agenda 2063 which envisions an ‘ integrated continent, politically united and based on the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance’.
The passport color is red – which is an interesting choice as most African passports are green and Passports with a red cover are often chosen by countries with a historical or current communist system.
The passport has inscriptions in Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, and Swahili. The African Union anthem’s lyrics are printed on the page immediately after the picture page.
African Union Passport Visa-Free Countries
At the moment, only 13 African states are open to all African citizens for visa-free travel. The African Union Passport would allow visa-free travel between the Union’s 55 member countries.
Benefits of African Union Passport
- Promoting rules of law, human rights, and public health.
- Freedom of movement within the AU: No restrictions on Africans ability to travel, work and live within our own continent.
- Boosting intra-Africa trade, commerce, and tourism
- Ease of setting up and growing start-ups or SME
- Facilitating labor mobility, intra-Africa knowledge, and skills transfer
- Promoting pan-African identity, social integration, and tourism.
- Education: access to education at some of the world’s best universities throughout the AU.
- Improving trans-border infrastructure and shared development.
- Fostering a comprehensive approach to border management.
How to get an African Union Passport
A number of prominent Africans, including some heads of state and diplomats, have been issued the passport. Through August 2019, 33 member states have signed the protocol to establish a pan-African economic body, the first step toward the free movement of people.
At the moment, there is no official information about how to apply for an African Union Passport in 2021.
Types of African Union Passports
There are three types of African Union passport that will be issued:
- Ordinary passport: These passports are issued to citizens and are intended for occasional travel, such as vacations and business trips. They contain 32 pages and are valid for 5 years.
- Official/Service passport: These passports are issued to officials attached to government institutions who have to travel on official business.
- Diplomatic passport: Issued to diplomats and consuls for work-related travel, and to their accompanying dependents.
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