While other places are enforcing stricter immigration policies, Africa is attempting to defy its internal borders by creating an electronic African passport, which would allow holders to easily travel from one country to another without acquiring a visa.
Despite claims that the passport will be launched in July, Abu Bakr Hefny, Egyptian ambassador to Ethiopia and the African Union (AU), told Daily News Egypt that the proposal has not yet been discussed in the AU, adding that there is little chance the plan will come about seamlessly.
This proposal falls into the AU’s Agenda 2063, which aims to unify the 54 states and create a stronger sense of integration. The proposed passport, that is meant to improve African trading and ease the movement of goods from state to state, received praise from international media. However, “how can you eliminate visas between 54 countries?” Hefny wondered, doubting the practicality of the passport.
Rwanda, one of the 13 states to currently enact a visa-free policy for African citizens, has seen significant growth and development since it eliminated visas. However, researchers such as David Zounmenou, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Security Studies, fear that not all the states will be equipped with the same level of technology to enforce the system.
Moreover, since visa revenues are a key source of income for many countries, there is the added drawback of losing that once the electronic passport is uniform.
If the passport prevails, it will act as the overarching guideline throughout the AU, with each state creating its own policy as to how exactly citizens will obtain it. Whether or not it actually will go through is still up for debate.