Africa’s Single Passport in 2021: Facts to know


The rollout of a single passport for all nations on the African continent is expected to occur in 2021.

While in other parts of the world countries are pulling out of alliances, Africa is strengthening ties and forging ahead with alliances. The African Union (AU) passport was expected to be rolled out in most countries in 2020 already, but few things have stayed on schedule in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The single passport will be a crucial element for the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, which allows for the free movement of people and goods across the African continent.


Africa travel
Travelling in Africa will hopefully become easier in future. Image: Adobe Stock
The AU is an association of 55 countries on the African continent. The countries agreed to forming a single bloc where they can all benefit from the unrestricted movement of people and goods.

The idea for a single passport for countries in the AU was floated in 2016. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) officially came into effect in July 2019, but the launch of a single passport for the continent was delayed.

To date, only political figures and AU officials have been using AU passports.

Freedom of movement is one of the key tenets of the AfCFT agreement. Analyst Justice Malala said a single passport for the entire continent was essential for the success of the AfCFTA accord.
The mass roll-out of the single AU passport was expected to occur in July 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic put a spanner in the works, delaying the process.

“So far, only government leaders, diplomats and AU officials have been issued with the passport,” Malala was quoted in Business Tech.
AfCFTA will unite the continent’s 1.3-billion people in a single economic bloc valued at $3.4-trillion (R51.8-trillion). The initiative will create a single market for goods and services, as well as a customs union that facilitates the movement of people, money and goods across the continent.

The single common-area initiative carries numerous benefit for countries on the continent, including:

Enhanced intra-Africa trade, commerce and tourism;
Facilitating labour mobility;
Improved transfer of knowledge and skills on the continent;
Promotion of African identity and social integration;
Improvement of cross-border infrastructure and shared development;
Generating a comprehensive approach to border management; and
Promoting the rule of law, human rights and public health.

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Godwin Okafor is a Financial Journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Naija247news Media Limited. He has over 16 years experience in financial journalism. His experience cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career at Business Day, Nigeria and founded Naija247news Media in 2010. Godwin holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. He is an alumni of Lagos Business School and a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists). Over the years, he has won a number of journalism awards. Godwin is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.

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