The inception of the single African passport has dominated headlines earlier this summer, and understandably so.
Still, what is it and who is able to use it?
The document is officially known as the African Union or (AU) e-Passport and is actually electronic! This streamlined passport grants those who possess it access to any of the AU member states, of which there are 54-yeah, I’d say that’s a good deal.
This incredibly desirable e-Passport has significance beyond its obvious travel-enabling capabilities. It’s seen as a key step toward the AU’s ultimate shared vision of a continent where borders are valued less than the freedom and unity of those contained by them. Supporters of the document hope the visa will improve travel and thusly, trade, in Africa.
The African Union has been citing 2020 as the new start date for visa-free continental travel. Without a doubt, the launch of the e-Passport is seen as important step toward that very goal. This single passport model is based on the European Union’s success with a similar schema. The territory is called the Schengen Area, and is comprised of 26 European countries that abolished visa requirements for travel (between fellow members).To be in accordance with these ever-changing passport trends and regulations, certain African regions have also eliminated or relaxed their visa policies, generally.
What’s the catch, you say?
Critics of the passport say that without a visa program, Africa would allow terrorists to travel more easily between countries. As security concerns heighten at home and abroad, this could prove problematic. Additionally, some fear that the passport could increase competition for jobs, especially in smaller African countries. Surprisingly, the funds attained from visa fees has become a really important source of income for embassies, another under-considered consequence of said policy.
The single African visa will move close to a greater vision and projected path that has been years in the making. As early as 1980, the Organization of African Unity called for exactly these types of policies that would promote free movement within African countries.
Finally, be sure to message us at ePassportPhoto to get quick guidance from our representatives!