AU passport to be rolled out this year

Exempts bearers from having to obtain visas

13 January 2021 | Africa



The African Union (AU) passport is set to be rolled out fully in 2021, following delays due to the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the aims of the African passport is to exempt bearers from having to obtain any visas for all 55 states in Africa.

The passport is currently only available to government leaders, diplomats and AU officials and is aimed at easing travel within the continent.

It is crucial for the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA), said Justice Malala in his analysis of migration in Africa as part of the Henley Global Mobility Report 2021.

“Travel restrictions are mostly being lifted across the continent, and this, combined with the first approval and planned deployment of coronavirus vaccines, bodes well for the implementation of the AfCFTA in 2021 after the pandemic delayed the planned launch in July last year,” he said.

AfCFTA aims to bring together 1.3 billion people in a US$3.4 trillion economic bloc, creating a single market for goods and services in addition to a customs union with free movement of both capital and business travellers.

The passport forms part of the AU’s Agenda 2063 for an integrated continent, politically united and is based on the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance.

Bring down borders

According to the AU, the initiative aims at transforming Africa’s laws, which remain generally restrictive on the movement of people, despite political commitments to bring down borders with the view of promoting the issuance of visas by member states to enhance free movement of all African citizens in all African countries.

Without taking temporary restrictions into account, Japan continues to hold the number one position on the index, with passport holders able to access 191 destinations around the world visa-free.

Namibia is ranked 68th with 77 countries passport holders can access visa-free, which could increase with the AU passport set to ease travel restrictions across 55 pan-African states

The AU has been pushing its objective to double intra-Africa tourism by 2023, as part of the 10-year implementation plan (2014-2023), which fits into the broad AU Agenda 2063.

The introduction of an African passport and opening up of borders has the potential and capacity to ensure that African travellers get the opportunity to explore the continent, which indeed has significant economic, political, cultural and social benefits.