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“I am pleased to stress that, in February 2019, in Addis Ababa, at the 32nd Summit of our Union, the Commission will present, for adoption, guidelines on the design, production and issuance of the African passport, the materialization of which will take us one step closer to the long-held dream of complete free movement across the continent.” Mahamat said in the statement.
The unified passport is aimed at easing the free movement of people, spurring economic growth, promoting intra-African trade, and eventually creating a “continent with seamless borders.”
The announcement comes in the heels of the AU’s launch of a single air market initiative to improve connectivity and a free trade agreement to establish a common market for goods and services. If the heads of state assembly adopt the measures in February, it will pave the way for of the issuance of the African passport in accordance with respective national laws and regulations.
First introduced in 2016, the African passport is still exclusive to heads of state and other diplomats with Chadian leader Idriss Déby and Rwandan president Paul Kagame being the first recipients. Immigration experts from member states, however, met last July in Nairobi to deliberate on the document’s technical specifications, security features, and how best to unroll it across the AU’s 55 states.