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An African Passport? And African ID System?

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)’s Economic Report on Africa 2019 emphasises, how digitising tax administration and investing in data collection helps to broaden the tax base. However, around 500m Africans have no official ID, which contributes to their exclusion from banking systems. Implementing digital ID systems can help to overcome this problem. There are similar problems to identify companies, particularly what are known as “sole traders” – very small companies staffed by just a few people (most artisans, doctors or dentists offices, etc, are categorized as sole traders). SA has launched a identity management project to introduce business identification

In 2013, the AU designed Agenda 2063, a framework with set objectives to aid the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years. The vision is to maintain integration of Africans on the continent. One of the ways the AU is doing this is through the proposed launch of a continental passport known as the AU passport. The passport will grant visa-free access to every member state so Africans can move freely across the continent. Presently, only Seychelles and the Republic of Benin have no visa restrictions for Africa travelers. The AU passport is not yet available to the public but is exclusive to heads of state, top diplomats and persons of interest in Africa.

Easy travel within the continent is not the passport’s only objective, it is also about opening up borders for economic growth and Intra-Africa trade. There is a substantial amount of evidence to show that free movement boosts the economies of countries. Residents of other countries are able to contribute skills for human capital development and to the labour market of the receiving countries. The AfCFTA) also allows free access to markets and market information in Africa.

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