Three East African Community (EAC) partner states Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya have agreed to start using National Identity cards as travel documents when traveling among them.
The three countries adopted the use of IDs as travel documents at the end of a-two-day, trilateral meeting hosted by the Government of Rwanda in Kigali last Friday.
The change follows a summit of Heads of State of the Republics of Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda held in Entebbe, Uganda on 25 June, where among other things, the Heads of State agreed to speed up the integration process among the three countries.
The resolution for using National ID’s as travel documents was adopted by Rwanda’s Minister of Local Government, James Musoni, Joseph Ole Lenku, Kenya’s Minister of Interior and Coordinator of National Government and Minister of State of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities, Agnes Egunyu Akrol.
The use of National Identity cards will go into effect on 1 January 2014. The decision enables citizens of the three countries to spend up to six months in a participating country using only their ID card.
“The use of National Identity cards as travel documents will act as a means of facilitating free movement of people and will also enhance social cohesion among the EAC population in the three countries” Minister Musoni said.
He said that using National ID’s as travel documents will also enable the citizens of the three EAC member states to explore opportunities in the wider EAC market, to share best practices in business transactions and to improve their socio-economic transformation.
Minister Joseph Ole Lenku, from Kenya said: “The adoption of using National ID’s as travel documents is proof that we are one people and on behalf of the government of Kenya I want to assure everyone here present that our government is determined to continue supporting this noble course of using ID’S as travel documents”.
Currently among the three EAC countries, only Rwanda and Kenya’s citizens have National Identity cards and according to the adoption, Ugandans will be allowed to use Voters’ cards, Student Identification cards, Temporary Movement permits and Passports as travel documents while Uganda prepares to issue National ID cards.
Asked as to why only three of the five EAC countries have agreed to implement this program, Minister Musoni noted that the EAC common market protocol stipulates that any of the EAC countries are allowed to develop aspects of the integration plan, regardless of the number of countries who are on board. He added that the three countries will do their best to ensure that the remaining two countries – Burundi and Tanzania – come on board.