Last updated: 05:12 PM ET, Tue July 19 2016

African Union Passport System Launches

Destination & Tourism | Michael Schottey | July 19, 2016

African Union Passport System Launches

PHOTO: A waterfall in Ethopia. (photo by David Cogswell)

Africans will soon be able to move more freely around their continent. 

At a summit in Rwanda, the African Union has unveiled the long-awaited African e-passport which is first being given to aid the work of various AU dignitaries but should soon be more widely available. 

For years, travel between African countries has lagged far behind international travel in other parts of the world. Currently and ironically, Americans have an easier time traveling between many of those countries than the citizens of those very countries.

Intra-African travel has been a priority since this initiative started in 2014. 

 READ MORE: Celebrate Nelson Mandela's Birthday With Special Itinerary From African Travel 

In a statement coinciding with the launch, the African Union stated: "The concept of unrestricted movement of persons, goods and services across regions and the continent is not new ... the unhampered movement of citizens is critical for Africa’s development."

Ernest Rwamucyo, High Commissioner of Rwanda to India showcased his brand new (if mostly symbolic) passport on Twitter:

The African Union's statement also lauded the countries who have taken the lead in ensuring easier intra-Africa travel by relaxing visa restrictions and in some cases lifting visa requirements altogether.

Visa-free African travel is hoped for by the year 2020. 

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