The AU e-Passport is an electronic document that permits any AU e-passport holder to enter any of the 54 African Member States, without requiring a visa.
The first group of beneficiaries of the single e-passport will include: African Heads of State and Government; Ministers of Foreign Affairs; and the Permanent Representatives of AU Member States based at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.The AU e-Passports will be issued to them in July 2016, at the 27th AU Summit in Kigali, Rwanda.
The second beneficiaries of the single e-passport includes all African citizens. The plan is to roll it out to all AU citizens by 2020.
In order for all the recipients to acquire the passports, they are strongly encouraged to comply with the needed paper work required to accelerate the processing lead time.
The concept of unrestricted movement of persons, goods and services across regions and the continent is not new; it has been outlined in documents like the Lagos Plan of Action and the Abuja Treaty - an indication that the unhampered movement of citizens is critical for Africa’s development.
Countries such as Seychelles, Mauritius, Rwanda, and Ghana have taken the lead in ensuring easier intra-Africa travel by relaxing visa restrictions and in some cases lifting visa requirements altogether. The scene seems to be set to realize the dream of visa-free travel for African citizens within their own continent by 2020.