By Alhagie Jobe
The much awaited African e-passport has finally been launched this Sunday at the 27th Ordinary Session of African Heads of States and Government summit in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.
The outgoing Chairperson of the African Union Commission Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma announced the launch and presented the first two e-passports to rotating AU chairperson Idriss Deby, President of the Republic of Chad, and President of Rwanda Paul Kagame at the opening ceremony of the 27th ordinary session of the AU Heads of States.
The theme of the two-day summit is; “2016: African Year of Human Rights, with particular focus on the Rights of Women”, but African leaders are largely expected to discuss a wide range of topics particularly peace and security, in the wake of a deadly violence that erupted in South Sudan between forces royal to two rivaling political camps.
According to AU, the first group of beneficiaries of the e-passport will include AU heads of state and government; ministers of foreign affairs; and permanent representatives of AU member states based at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa.
Speaking at the launch and delivering her last address as AU chairperson, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma said even though the initial plan was to issue the passports to Heads of State, Foreign Affairs Ministers and top diplomats, the African Union had been overwhelmed by calls from many who want to share in the privilege of holding African passports. She appealed that nations should accept the challenge to issue the African passports to their respective nationals within their own processes.
She spoke about the successes the Commission has chalked among others championing the rights of women, the launch of the African passport and championing youth involvement in the continent’s journey into the future.
She said four years ago, when the leadership of the Commissioin was elected, they were given the honour and responsibility to serve the African Union and give their best to Africa.
“This responsibility has taken us to the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, where on 25 May 2013, we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of OAU & AU. We deliberated on the Africa we have and the Africa we want. Two years later, after listening to African citizens sharing their aspirations, we adopted Agenda 2063, our 50 year development framework” she highlighted.
Dr Zuma challenged the next commission to focus on achieving all indicators towards the Agenda 2063 dream that had been set.