The African Union’s vison of forming a closely knit union takes shape with the launch of a common passport that will grant visa-free access to all 54 member states.

Heads of state and senior officials are expected to receive their electronic passports at the AU summit in Kigali, Rwanda later this month with hopes of African citizens having theirs by 2018 reports CNN.

“This flagship project has the specific aim of facilitating free movement of persons, goods and services around the continent – in order to foster intra-Africa trade, integration and socio-economic development,” the Union announced in a statement.

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.

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