Rwanda has moved ahead in popularizing the Pan-African passports, with the modalities already in place to print and issue the sophisticated travel document sooner than later, Louise Mushikiwabo, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Government spokesperson has said.
Mushikiwabo said this on Thursday while addressing journalists at the sideline of the ongoing African Union Summit, in Kigali.
“The time has come for the popularization process of African passport to be started,” Mushikiwabo said.
“Rwanda is already printing out similar passports and we will be picking it up from here, during this summit, we will be printing and distributing different categories of passports, including diplomatic, official and ordinary passports.”
On Sunday, it is expected that the Pan-African passports will be symbolically handed to African Heads of State due here to attend the 27th African Union Summit, in Kigali — with hope that they will go on to distribute them to citizens in their respective countries.
“The passports to be handed to Heads of State are not specifically for the presidents, but for entire African citizens. This will be a symbolic genesis of easing the visa regimes across the continent,” Mushikiwabo said.
She added that delays to put into place seamless visa regime across the continent have hindered the continent’s social and economic integration, due to limited mobility of people and goods.
“The African passport portrays the roadmap through which we seek to move African integration. From Kigali, we expect that countries will start on modalities and enter into discussions with the AU Commission to print each country’s pan-African passport,” Mushikiwabo noted.
There has been perceived security-related fear which might originate from easing free movement of people across the continent, with some people saying that this process might pose security threats, especially terrorists roaming across the continent easily.
However, Mushikiwabo noted that easing mobility of people and goods across the continent “will not compromise security.”
“Of course security is key when we are talking about the e-passport across the continent. The fear of insecurity should not stop Africans from moving from one country to another, but rather, we, countries must pick up our preparation on the issues of e-passport in regard to people’s movement.”
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