The African Union Passport

written by A. L. Hart Havens on April 15, 2021

The second citizenship space is heavily saturated with service providers, bloggers, and offshore enthusiasts who are eager to emphasize the value of European Union member‑state passports. They promote the access to the EU single market allowing citizens of EU member states to quickly establish residency, secure employment, and even claim government benefits in another other EU member state under largely the same conditions as the host country’s citizens.

First and foremost, however, it is the contrived idea of living in a safe, stable, and democratic European country with a strong tradition of the rule of law that is sold to unwitting North American readers and listeners. Unfortunately, the high taxes, political correctness, welfare mentality, and expensive cost of living are often ignored in order to further promote the romanticized idea of the cultured European lifestyle.

Despite the high‑quality passport and excellent visa‑free travel that EU nationality typically offers, the underlying citizenship unfortunately features a number of significant drawbacks when compared to non‑EU countries. In light of this, open‑minded seekers of freedom and prosperity would be wise to examine citizenship options in other blocs across the world, such as that of the African Union – the AU.

The African Union

In contrast to the European Union’s scattered patchwork of 27 member countries, the African Union is a 55‑country bloc that encompasses the entire African continent and adjacent island nations. Founded in 2001, the initial advocacy and lobbying efforts to create an African Union came in the 1990s from Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi, who is widely viewed as the AU’s founding patron.

With a Pan‑African Parliament convening since 2004, the African Union is now evaluating proposals for the creation of an African Monetary Union, an African Central Bank, and an African single currency (which could be coined the Afro). The AU’s two main political and administrative centers are Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Johannesburg, South Africa.

Among other things, the AU seeks to establish a free market and freedom of movement for all African nationals across the entire continent. Although implementation is still far from complete, the adoption of the AU Free Movement Protocol has marked a major step forward. Among other interesting guidelines, the document sets out that…

Nationals of a Member State shall have the right to seek and accept employment without discrimination in any other Member State in accordance with the laws and policies of the host Member State.

Nationals of a Member State shall have the right to enter, stay, move freely, and exit the territory of another Member State in accordance with the laws, regulations, and procedures of the host Member State.

A national of a Member State entering, residing, or established in the territory of another Member State may acquire property in the host Member State in accordance with the laws, policies, and procedures of the host Member State.

An individual who acquires citizenship in any of the AU’s 55 member countries would thus gain immediate access to lucrative investment, real estate, and business opportunities in emerging markets across the entire continent.

And given the heavy economic restrictions typically imposed by African countries on non‑citizens, the acquisition of an African country’s citizenship would confer a tremendous edge over other westerners wishing to try their luck on this new economic frontier.

The Value of the AU Passport

The African Union’s political and economic integration efforts have also given rise a common passport, which was created with the aim of granting visa‑free access throughout Africa to all 55 African countries. AU countries are set to begin issuing ordinary passports to their citizens in late 2021 with the rollout process expected to take several years.

For citizens of the currently more developed African countries, particularly South Africa, the transition to a standardized continental African passport could unfortunately lead to a decline in visa‑free travel opportunities throughout the world, as some western countries may deem a pan‑African passport to pose a security risk.

However, it stands to reason that the adoption of the African Union passport will bring about an improvement in the worldwide visa‑free travel options for the vast majority of Africans in the not‑so‑distant future given the relative weakness of most African passports at present.

Geopolitical Diversification

Particularly in the face of massive Chinese investment in the continent’s economy, Africa may be poised to record tremendous economic growth that could soon turn a number of underdeveloped and unappealing countries into reasonably pleasant places to live.

The growing Chinese influence throughout Africa could also make the continent less dependent on and less beholden to western organizations such as the US government, the European Union, and NATO. This is an interesting consideration for citizens of western countries who wish to diversify their citizenships not only across different national jurisdictions, but also across different geopolitical spheres of influence.

Hopefully the African Union will focus on the benefits of continental free trade and economic cooperation rather than morphing into a rigid, bloated, and authoritarian political bureaucracy. Given its structural similarities to the European Union, however, it will indeed be interesting to see whether the AU can avoid following too closely in the EU’s footsteps.

The AU’s creation may ultimately prove detrimental to Africa in the long run if it serves to erode national sovereignty and tax competition as well as to stymie innovation via excessive taxation and regulation. However, the African Union nonetheless constitutes a pursuit‑worthy option for adventurous westerners looking to get in early on Africa’s vast untapped business, investment, and citizenship potential.