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AU moves to ease African trade, adopts common passport



AU moves to ease African trade, adopts common passport

A renewed approach at improving the trade blocs in Africa has been presented with the adoption of the common passport in use among some countries in the West African sub-region.

The countries, Nigeria, Senegal, Liberia and Mali were specifically identified as leading the park in having common passports for their citizens.

Nigeria, Senegal, Liberia and Mali, were specifically commended with the 54-member organisation resolving to adopt the Nigerian-led example.

Enumerating the gains of common passport in the continent, Moono Mupotola, the Director Regional Integration and Trade Department at the African Development Bank (AfDB) told reporters in Kigali, the venue of this year’s AU summit that poverty will be fought with the emergence of common passport in the continent.

Towards achieving needed result, the AU launched a common electronic passport granting visa-free travel to citizens of all its 54 member-states, termed as the long-term goals of deeper integration of the continent.

The passport was first issued to heads of state and senior officials at the AU’s summit in Kigali, Rwanda, last Sunday, with 2020 as the deadline for full compliance by all countries.

Having a common passport in the continent is in line with the organization’s mission dating back to its precursor, Organization of African Unity (OAU).

Read also: Nigeria beats Ghana, Switzerland in use of ATM machines

It comes in the wake of Africa Visa Openness report by the African Development Bank released in March, indicating that visa policies and regimes have made it difficult for Africans to travel across the continent.

While European or American passport holders, for example, travel easily across the continent, Africans find it harder to travel to 55 per cent of their sister countries.

A sense of Pan-Africanism is therefore mirrored in the common passport.

Said the AfDB official “survey indicated that at least 55 per cent of  Africans currently require visas to  neigbouring African countries with only 25 per cent enjoying travel without visas.”

The programme when fully implemented can enhance tourism revenue to more than 30 per cent in most countries that are poor today.

In a statement ahead of the launch, the African Union said 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.

However, it will be an uphill task for the continent to easily adopt the passport because of spates of terrorism and cross border conflicts hampering attempts by sub-regional blocs to achieve result.

But most leaders of the continent said they look forward to when Africa will discard pockets of border skirmishes for the economic potential that abound for countries in it.



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