By Theresia Tjihenuna
NAMIBIA and other African states are considering the possibility of a common passport for the continent by 2018.
This is one of the decisions deliberated by senior officials at the recently-ended four-day Ministerial Conference on Aviation Security and Facilitation held in Windhoek last week.
The permanent secretary in the ministry of works and transport Willem Goeieman said during a high-level meeting with Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and aviation experts on Friday that the target was part of Agenda 2063 which was already adopted last year.
The target basically deals with some of the decisions that have [already]been taken by the African Union in terms of Agenda 2063 – that is for the common passports to be issued to Africans in 2018, as well as the removal of visas that was approved by the honourable ministers, he stated.
Goeieman said the final steps for all the documents on the plan of action have to be submitted to Cabinet, which should be ready by today.
About 33 countries participated in the conference, and more than 20 ministers were in attendance.
Minister of international relations Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah yesterday applauded the idea of a common passport, and told The Namibianthat the decision would allow for more integration between member states and enhance connection by air, which will in turn dissolve the problem of long flight delays.
For you to go from one African state to another, especially to east or West Africa, you have to go via Europe, she said, adding that once a common passport is issued, there won’t be such delays.
She felt such a decision was viable.
The decision has been taken, now all that is required is the political willpower, she said.
Political pundit Phanuel Kaapama said free movement of people and goods between countries is already common in Europe.
It can be done [by Africa].African leaders take noble decisions, but then there is a challenge with implementation, he said, adding that there was also a similar decision taken to have one African currency that still needs to become a reality.
Kaapama noted that it [common passport] was a practical idea since it is currently easier to travel to some European countries than to some African states.
He, however, questioned if some African countries were willing to freely accept other nationalities since they already struggle to accept other tribes in their own countries.
Goeieman said during the ministerial conference which was convened on Thursday, the experts also looked at three documents, including the report of the experts.
One of the documents was the declaration requesting member states to commit themselves on aviation security, especially with the terrorism threats and other challenges that impact airline safety and travel.
Prime Minister Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said at the meeting on Friday that the decisions which were taken at the conference were very important, especially for small economies like Namibia which depend on international trade and economic activities.
Africa has to keep abreast with the developments around the world, not only in terms of the new emerging forms of security and risks to aviation, but also in terms of the new innovative modes of preventing and dealing with these security threats.
Our hope is that this declaration that was adopted in our capital will be successfully implemented so that it will translate into greater prosperity for the continent, she stressed.
Goeieman said the decision will now be taken by the heads of state at a summit which will take place in July, where President Hage Geingob will take the Windhoek Declaration to the other heads of state to be endorsed so that implementation can begin.
The conference was held under the auspices of the African Union, the International Civil Aviation Organisation and the African Civil Aviation Commission.