African Union Releases New Electronic Passport
Our brothers and sisters in the Motherland will soon be able to discard their black, blue, red and green passports. These different passports were used to identify the religious or cultural states a person comes from, but now citizens of the African continent will be issued an electronic African Union passport that will allow them to travel, visa-free, within the 54 countries that apart of the “continental union,” reports Condé Nast Traveler (CNT).
Although there isn’t an exact date for when the African Union (AU) will issue these passports to its citizens, government officials have already received their own methods of indetification. “At the 27th AU Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, on Sunday, Chadian President Idriss Déby and Rwandan leader Paul Kagame were presented with the first passports, which features inscriptions in five languages—English, French, Arabic, Portuguese, and Swahili. (Initially, the document will be available only to diplomats and state and government officials,),” Katherine LaGrave wrote for CNT. The AU believes every citizen who lives in the continent can and will be able to have one of the new electronic passports by 2020.
Currently, all Africans must request a visa to visit more than half of the countries on the African continent—while only 13 countries allow travelers who reside in Africa to enter without a visa. With this new legislation in place, it is said that citizens who apply for the new African Union passport will not experience the same amount of red tape when applying for a visa.
Despite this exciting news, BBC Africa readers are a bit skeptical. Many believe that the new passport will cost an unconscionable fee; therefore, only allowing the rich to have more travel access. Others claim it was not necessary to create a new passport and that only the visa policies should’ve been changed because there are more paramount issues to focus on.