On Monday, the African Union Commission chairperson, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said that freedom of movement of Africa citizens around Africa is more beneficial than harmful.
She made this statement while speaking at an African Union state of the continent address, which took place at the Hilton Hotel in Durban, South Africa on Monday.
She focused on Rwanda, the country which pioneered a visa-free system in Africa, shedding light on the benefits it has posed the east African nation.
“Rwanda was the country that led this move and they opened their borders for all Africans. That kind of policy has seen them increase their tourism by 24% and trade by over 50%. Generally, the free movement of people has more advantages than disadvantages,” she said.
“If people are free to move they come in and leave. If they know they can’t come back at their will, they end up staying. We are developing a comprehensive protocol of free movement and we are hoping it will be signed by 2018.”
In July, the African Union passport, an e-passport that allows its holder to travel to any of the 54 member states of the AU without a visa, was launched.
The passport aims to promote Africa’s socioeconomic development by reducing trade barriers and permitting the free flow of people, ideas, goods, and services.
Many remain skeptical about the advantages of a borderless Africa. Top of the skeptics’ list is the issue of cross-border terrorism. They fear that the African Union passport will allow terrorism to permeate terror free Africa countries. Also, many argue that this would allow for illegal migration.
Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma nonetheless urges more African countries to open their borders, reiterating that it would be of immense benefit to Africa’s growth.