Nigeria will begin issuing visas on arrival for all Africans, the African Union announced on Friday, lauding the move as a major step towards the body’s objective of ensuring free movement across the continent.
AU deputy chairperson Kwesi Quartey praised the West African country’s move as a “laudable move towards Africa’s integration agenda.”
The continental body has been pushing for the abandonment of individual country passports as a way of easing movement for people and goods around the continent.
It launched an African Union Passport in July 2016, but which has failed to take off as was imagined. Not a single country has issued the Africa passport to its common citizens.
Nigeria, once it begins the issuance of the visas upon arrival for every African, will become the continent’s 14th country to do so.
AP reports a spokeswoman for the AU chairperson, Ebba Kalondo, to say the body was waiting for details from Nigeria as the news was “announced verbally with no formal communication.”
Quarter in July lamented the slow progress of the implementation of the continental passport, but acknowledged the concerns raised by different nations.
“Member states still have to be concerned with security. It’s easy to talk about free movement of people …but free movement comes with attendant risks. Free movement of people could also include free movement of criminals, free movement of illicit materials… So even as national governments are keen to see their citizens to move freely, they also want to be able to control the movement of criminals,” he said.
Officially, the passport is supposed to be rolled out in 2018, but going by the slow progress so far, there is no surety of a success.