Delegates at the 27th Ordinary Session of African Union Summit that concluded in Kigali, yesterday, commended Heads of State and Government and the Union Commission for introducing a Pan-African Passport and urged swift issuance to citizens. The passport was launched Sunday by the Commission Chairperson, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, with President Idriss Deby of Chad, the chair of AU, and President Paul Kagame, the host, receiving the ceremonial passport. The passport is not only expected to ease movement across the continent but also stimulate intra- African trade, according to officials. The New Times’ Rodrigue Rwirahira spoke to some delegates at the summit. Here are what they had to say.
Louise Mushikiwabo, Minister for Foreign Affairs. ‘The time has come for the popularisation process of African Passport to be started. Rwanda is prepared and we are already printing the African Passport. The passport portrays the roadmap through which we seek to move African integration.
We expect that countries will start on modalities and enter into discussions with the African Union Commission to print each country’s Pan-African Passport.’
Eloge Agani, technical advisor to the Benin President. ‘I think that the newly-launched African Passport is a good initiative in the first place, but for that to function, more concrete measures by member states of the African Union will be much more required. There are notable priorities at play for the moment, like removal of visas for Africans travelling to their African countries. We don’t have to forget that there are countries that up to now still make it difficult to visit, thus flexibility from member states will make this initiative successful.’
Dr Mary Tapgun, a delegate from Nigeria. ‘Although I am not fully abreast with the detail of how the new African Passport will operate, I believe it is a good initiative that is likely to change a number of things at the continental level, in line with the visions of this continent that we all love. Time is now for member states to embrace it and work toward its full realisation.’
Raymond Balima, Director-General state protocol, Burkina Faso. ‘This is a step forward in the unity slogan as it was expressed. We are one people and live on one continent, but we shall wait to see the implementation. The initiative will make us feel linked and related. For once, Africa will be stronger to support its independence and sovereignty and this will boost trade on the continent. We are banking on Heads of State and Government to have it popularised.’