Will 2019 Be Year of African Unity?

By: Norhan Mahmoud

CAIRO, Jan. 8 (SEE)- Encore, Egypt restored its continental status in a record time to pursue vital interests that were once set forward by the founding fathers of the African Union (AU) – Gamal Abdel Nasser, Kwame Nkrumah and Julius Nyerere – to achieve integration.

Egypt is back on its African leadership track after 25 years and it looks like as soon as the country will preside over the 32nd African Union (AU) in 2019, at the end of this January at Ethiopia’s Capital Addis Ababa, an active plan will be put into action.

African Union Diplomatic Passport

A unified passport for citizens of the African Union

African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faqih Mohamed revealed that the 32nd ordinary session of the AU conference will present details concerning the issuance of a unified passport for all Africans, describing it as “the long awaited dream.”

“The conference will see the design, production and issuance of the African passport,” Faqih Mohamed said in a press statement. “This step is closer to reality for free movement across the African continent.”

He pointed out that the unified passport aims to facilitate the movement of Africans among African countries, as well as stimulating economic growth and promoting trade movement.

The Unified Electronic Passport is expected to be launched in line with the flagship project of the Africa Agenda 2063 at the current African summit, to facilitate free movement of people, goods and services throughout the continent with a view to boosting intra-African trade, integration and economic and social development.

In June 2015, Economic Commissioner of the Union Anthony Marupeng proposed the idea and it seems to be on the road to urgent implementation.

The new passport will be similar to the Schengen visa in the European Union, enabling its holder to travel across the 54 AU countries without a visa. This will bring one billion Africans closer together, though the ultimate goal may take years or even decades to be fulfilled.

Observers reckon the move as a serious step to strengthen the identity of all Africans, who longed independence for decades amidst their strife to overthrow colonial powers that scattered numerous groups and races and outraged conflicts in-between countries.

The idea in itself is to facilitate traveling across the continent, as in Europe, through border crossing, trade acceleration, employment of workers from all over the continent and the migration of citizens to different parts for economic benefit.

One lingering hope for this passport is to resolve the crisis of ‘diaspora’ that thousands suffer from whilst escaping the scourge of civil wars and fear of return.

Signboard at Cairo International Airport

Africans Terminal at Cairo International Airport

Following President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s instructions, Africa now tops Egypt’s foreign policy priorities.

Inside Cairo International Airport, signboards have been placed to guide African Union nationals to special terminals. Also, a committee has been formed to keep track of the directives- headed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the membership of various authorities.

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