‎ AU to launch Common Passport at 27th summit

Godwin Ukaa, Abuja  

Nigeria is to join other African countries in Kigali, Rwanda to launch a Common Passport that will grant visa-free access to all the countries in the continent.

The idea for this common passport system is to foster closer integration of countries in Africa, to facilitate free movement of persons, goods and services.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyema stated this while briefing newsmen in Abuja on Monday, as preparatory to the forthcoming 27th Ordinary Summit of African Union, AU, which holds from the July 16 to 18, 2016.

“The vision that our continental leaders have for greater integration of the continent, will stress on economic and political integration. So the building blocks are being put in place to achieve those objectives. The free trade area is one of such blocks and the free movement of African people on the continent,” Mr. Onyema explained. 

The electronic passports are expected to be unveiled at the AU summit in Kigali, where they will be issued to Heads of State and Leaders attending the summits.

The AU plans to distribute them to all African citizens by 2018.

The common passports issue has been on the pipeline as part of the key focal point of the Agenda 2063 action plan, which emphasised the need for greater continental integration, based on the popular vision of Pan-African unity.

The freedom of movement by AU member countries has been a longstanding priority among countries on the continent, as enshrined in previous agreements such as the 1991 Abuja Treaty.

Common passports have already been adopted for several regions, such as the Economic Community of West African States, Ecowas.

Human rights enforcement
The Foreign Affairs Minister said Nigeria was committed to ensuring that all human rights especially women were enforced and this led to the establishment of an effective human rights desk in addition to a Ministry of Women Affairs.

Nigeria has put in place concrete framework to advance the role of women in the society.

“This government gives particular importance to gender equality and women participation in government; we can see that in the executive, in the legislature and all arms of governance, this has led to the increasing participation of women in the country,” Mr Onyeama stressed.

He added that other issues on the agenda of the AU summit include the reform of the UN Security Council, Africa Peace and Security Council and New Partnership for Africa’s Development, Nepad.

The theme of the AU summit is “African Year of Human Right with particular focus on Women Rights.”