Seychelles supports AU all-Africa passport initiative

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Seychelles supports AU all-Africa passport initiative

Post  Sirop14 on Thu Jul 07, 2016 9:00 pm

Seychelles supports AU all-Africa passport initiative

Seychelles has welcomed the news this week that the African Union has launched a common passport that will grant visa-free access to all 54 member states.
The electronic passports will be unveiled at the African Union (AU) summit in Kigali, Rwanda, later this month, where they are expected to be issued to heads of state, diplomats and senior officials. The AU is aiming to distribute these passports to all African citizens by 2018.
Commenting on the AU’s initiative Foreign Affairs and Transport Minister Joël Morgan told Seychelles NATION yesterday Seychelles fully supports the move as it will put an end to the hassle of visa applications, it will foster tourism, trade and economic development, ease travel from one country to another as well as improve the ease of doing business between countries of the continent.
Minister Morgan explained that for a long time since the idea was first brought forward Seychelles has been positive about it.
“No visa is required to visit Seychelles so we wish that our citizens could also have free access to visit other countries,” he said.
Minister Morgan further pointed out that at the AU summit in Addis Ababa earlier this year Seychelles visa free access status was commended and used as a model which works. But he admits that many countries do not buy into the initiative citing numerous reasons such as security threats, that it will encourage organised crimes and strengthen terror movements.
Minister Morgan said Seychelles will also push for the initiative to move beyond just benefiting heads of state and diplomats.
“We hope that it goes beyond just benefitting heads of state and diplomats; we want all citizens to benefit,” Minister Morgan told Seychelles NATION.
A CNN report released on Tuesday stated that the passports represent a key plank of the AU Agenda 2063 action plan, which emphasises the need for greater continental integration, drawing on the popular vision of Pan-African unity. Freedom of movement has been a longstanding priority among member states, as enshrined in previous agreements such as the 1991 Abuja Treaty. Common passports have already been adopted for several regions, such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Currently, just 13 African states are open to all African citizens without advance visas, with many placing severe restrictions on travel. A recent report from the African Development Bank advised that easing entrance requirements would support economic growth, citing the case of Rwanda, which saw GDP and tourism revenues climb after abolishing visas.
AU director for political affairs Dr Khabele Matlosa believes opening borders will have a profound effect for workers at the lower end of the scale.
“We have a problem now that young people are risking their lives to cross the Sahara Desert or travel on boats to Europe,” says Matlosa. “If we open opportunities in Africa we reduce that risk.”
The director has been studying the example of Europe, but believes a closer African Union will not be so threatened by concerns about immigration or loss of sovereignty.


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