The African Union has made a decision to promote solidarity in a move that will see integration through the launch of a common passport that will grant visa-free access to all 54 member states. It is hoped that this is a move that will benefit all member states on the contienent.

The electronic passports will be unveiled at the AU summit in Kigali, Rwanda, later this month, where they will be issued to heads of state and senior officials. The Union’s aim is to distribute them to all African citizens by 2018.

“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,” the Union announced in a statement.

The passports represent a key plank of the Agenda 2063 action plan, which emphasizes the need for greater continental integration.

Some analysts have deemed the proposed date by which the AU aims to distribute the all-Africa passport as ambitious. This is taking into account factors such discrepancy in levels of technology which may affect the biometric system. There has been much dialogue around the benefits and drawbacks of this development, which makes the launch by the AU one that is keenly anticipated.

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