Association for Free Research and International Cooperation

THE AFRICAN UNION single passport: How feasible?

Article from AFRIC Editorial
The wind of change blowing across the world has had great impacts on the African Continent. The organization of African Unity now known as the African Union has been working without relent to ensure feasible reforms across the African Continent. Since the rebirth of minds in Africa, leaders have sought to bring African Institutions together for the common good of Africans. The continental bloc through these reforms instituted the African Union or the Pan African Passport. The most influential organ of the AU, the African Union Commission (AUC) is at the forefront of this Project. However, the feasibility of the AU Passport still remains controversial as it is yet to be materialised.


The African union Passport is simply a legal ID to be issued to all citizens of the African continent whose states are signatories to the African Union. This project was brought to light on July 17th 2016 when African Presidents and heads of Governments met in Rwanda’s capital city of Kigali in one of their routine gatherings to brainstorm on issues that can boost the continent’s growth and development. The anticipated AU passport will substitute the already available nationally issued AU passports to member states of the organizations.

The major objective or aim of the Pan African Passport is to curtail the existing laws in Various African states which impedes the free movement of people, goods, Capital and services across the continent.

  • To serve bearers from having to obtain visas for all 55 African countries
  • Promote easy circulation of people and goods and to uplift trade among member states.


The urge to make Africa renowned among world’s economies pushed the AU into adopting a single passport for its citizens.  The continental body has perceived this passport as a unifying tool for all Africans.  African presidents are en route to ensuring full cooperation/integration in every sphere be it social, political, economic, to make its development agenda 2063 more pragmatic.

AU leaders believe that the dream of a ‘’unified African” advocated by the Pan Africanist and Slain Libyan President Muammar Gadhafi is attainable with this single Pan African Passport.


The anticipated Pan African Passport is in three type

  • Official passport: Issued to Africans for casual travels i.e. vacations, business and is valid for five years.
  • Diplomatic Passport: entitled to only Government officials for formal travels
  • Ordinary Passport: allotted to diplomats for work related trips.


The AU Passport is labelled in five languages; English, French, Swahili, Arabic and Portuguese, it also carries the Anthem of the African Union. As of now, only Chadian President Idris Deby Itno and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame as holders of the AU passport, given to them at the launch of the project by then AUC Chair Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.


  • With a major project like the AU passport, pundits have bemoaned the slow realization of the giant project. AU leaders had vowed to make the passports available in 2018 intended to go operational by the year 2020.
  • Also, many minds in African have questioned the practicality of this single passport on the basis that Regional organisations like ECOWAS, SADC, CEMAC, and ECCAS etc. are not directly under the auspices of the African Union.
  • Free circulation will create fragile borders, which according to analysts, poses a security threat to the African continent. E.g. areas like the Lake Chad basin and the Sahel Region are already battling Jihadists.

However, Moussa Faki Mahamat, AU Commission chair has reiterated that the AU is ready to get more pragmatic on the single African passport. Mahamat has said the commission will provide clarifications in February 2019 on the production and delivery of the African passport. Many have always questioned the practicality of the AU in implementing reforms, thus achieving this objective would be a milestone for the Continental Bloc.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

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