ONE PASSPORT, ONE CONTINENT, ONE AFRICA: EFFECTS OF THE PROPOSED AU PASSPORT ON INTRA-CONTINENTAL TRAVEL

ONE
PASSPORT, ONE
CONTINENT, ONE AFRICA: EFFECTS OF THE PROPOSED AU PASSPORT ON
INTRA-CONTINENTAL TRAVEL
On Tuesday, 25th of
April, 2017 which was co-incidentally a month to our Africa Day celebrations, I
was in a building in Oregun, Ikeja, with some highly intelligent and informed
people. We were discussing the future of our great continent and our individual
and collective responsibilities in making Africa what God had intended it to be
– One Great Nation. Mr. Richard Mamah (Editor-In-Chief, The Difference
Newspaper) noted that if Africa were to be a country, she would be a World
Power and with over 1.2Billion people and a massive mineral and material
resources, Africa would be a very powerful country. Hear his words;
“everyone is waiting for Africa to succeed, even God, and that is why He
created the first Human on our planet” He noted.
An editorial on our website
titled; “Why We Are Celebrating Africa Day in Nigeria” explains in explicit
terms the rationale behind the celebration of Africa Day and the E-Passport in
focus. Excerpts; “We plan the event to be a colloquium on the new Africa
Union passport which is guaranteeing visa-free travel to Africans all across
Africa. Along the line also, we will equally be celebrating leading West
African businesses in a segment we have dubbed the ‘Business Kings of the West
Coast.’ And then there will be the presentation of ‘Africa Day,’ a journal
addressing issues of pan-African significance and the anniversary edition of
The Difference which is being produced for the celebration.” (The
Difference Newspaper – Editorial on 9th of April, 2017)
This week, I would
be discussing in great details, unlimited possibilities the African Union’s
proposed E-Passport would unlock for the continent especially in areas of
intra-continental travel and we at the Difference Newspaper are celebrating
Africa Day on May 25th, 2017, with the theme. So, the next question is, what is
the AU E-Passport?
The African Union
Electronic passports are for African citizens to be able to travel throughout
the continent without visas. There are two passports – one issued by the
African Union for officials and people who travel a lot on business and the
other by individual countries for everyone else. It will bear the African
Union’s name and that of the issuing country. The diplomatic passport is in
English, French, Arabic, Portuguese and Swahili.
It is a bio-metric,
or e-passport, that meets international standards and will be modeled on the
European Union one. It is an attempt to ease movement of people and stimulate
trade across the continent. The Africa Development Bank (AfDB) report on visa
openness found only 13 out of 55 countries allow all Africans to enter either
without a visa or to get one on arrival. These kind of blockages hinder
intra-African trade, which remains very low. According to the report, many
countries still do more business with their former colonial power, than with
their African neighbors. (Should Africa have a single passport? – Emmanuel
Igunza, BBC Africa, Kigali, Rwanda, 19th July, 2016)
In consequence, we
should not forget the focus of this educative and prodigious piece which is to
address the effects of the proposed passport on intra-continental. These
effects are itemized and discussed in the following paragraphs.
The
Effects

v Unlimited
Opportunities – After South Africa opened its market to Kenyan airlines in
2000, the number of passengers jumped by 69%, and after South Africa struck a
bilateral accord with Zambia in 2013, cost of travel between the countries
plummeted by almost 40%. A study by IATA predicts that if just 12 of Africa’s
member states opened their skies to each other, fares would drop by 35%, an
additional 155,000 jobs would be created, and GDP would rise by $1.3 billion.
Liberalization has gained traction in Kenya, South Africa, Ethiopia and other
African countries over the last few years. (What Does the AU Passport Mean for
Intra-African Air Travel?
– Valerie Silva, 13th July, 2016)
Obviously,
the proposed single passport if well implemented would significantly boost
intra-Africa trade and expand businesses across the continent because it would tackle
travel infrastructure which is one of the biggest challenge to trade across the
continent.
Unfortunately,
many countries have more flights to London or Paris than with other countries
on the continent. For example, there are very few flights between Abuja and
Dakar – two major West African capitals – and passengers sometimes have to
travel via Nairobi or Addis Ababa in East Africa, or even Europe.
v Security
– Co-operation within Africa would be immeasurably improved. This is of utmost
importance because Africa Leaders would be forced to share information and
security and other crime prevention tips with regional neighbors and other
distant African countries because a security breach or lapse in one country can
result to significant crisis in others and collaboration would be further
entrenched.
However,
an AU representative argues that it will be easier to track criminals and
terrorists within the continent with the enabled Bio-metric chip.
Conclusion
In a previous
write-up on a similar topic titled; “The Time for Africa is Here: The Time
for Action is Now
“; I prophesized that the sky is the starting point if
Africa’s human, mineral and material resources can be holistically harnessed
for the benefit of the average African. Excerpts; “Africa’s greatest potential
is its people. With wide access to quality education, health and
infrastructural services, the African man is given the necessary tools he needs
to chart his course in life. The governments and other global institutions must
ensure that policies, legislations and programmes that foster the wellbeing and
better living conditions of Africans is sponsored, effected and promoted
because over the past three decades per capita output of electricity in
Sub-Saharan Africa has reminded virtually flat; only 16% of all roads are paved
compared with 58% in south Asia. We need a positive change and the only way to
do that is to ensure that our leaders are held accountable for their actions
and inactions.” (
http://dailyindependentnig.com/2015/09/time-to-unleash-african-economic-potentials/)
(Oluwole Olusanya, 2015)
If you ask me, I
would I am in total support of the single passport, however, it might come with
its own teething problems and implementation challenges but it is the right
move in the right direction but before I drop my pen, I would like to use the
opportunity to invite everyone to our Africa Day event which would be celebrated
at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Kofo Abayomi Street,
Victoria Island, Lagos on Thursday, 25th of May, 2017.
Last years’
celebration was a hit, I am sure this years’ celebration would be a bomb.
#AfricaIsComing
God Bless Africa,
God Bless Africans
Olusanya,
Oluwole Sheriff
Oluwole Olusanya
Oluwole Olusanya is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of one of the fastest-growing lifestyle and entertainment website in the country. He is a banker, writer, blogger, public affairs analyst and a tax consultant. He anchors Trending Topics on SHEFFA where he shares his thoughts and opinions on trending issues. He is currently studying for a Master’s Degree in Business Administration at the University of South Wales, Wales, United Kingdom. He has diplomas in Banking and Finance, Investigative Journalism, Creative Writing, and Linguistics from Lagos State Polytechnic, Isolo, Lagos, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland and The Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom.