Should there be freedom of movement between African countries?

April 14, 2021 1717 views 13 comments 3 minutes reading time
Should there be freedom of movement between African countries?

The journey towards attaining freedom of movement in Africa has been a long, slow but fruitful journey.

Despite a few setbacks, the African Union (AU), through the Free Movement Protocol, foresees a fully integrated continent in the near future.

With increased movement of people and trade across the continent, Africa is expected to see a significant decrease in unemployment with people migrating from areas where jobs are scarce to countries where there are opportunities. 

But the benefits of Countries with fewer restrictions have also attracted more tourists. A classic case is that of the Seychelles, which has abolished entry visas for all African countries, resulting in an uptick in visitors.

Some of the reasons behind slowing the journey towards freedom of movement include social and economic disparities, security issues, and health epidemics. But the AU has been vocal about these challenges citing that the benefits outweigh the challenges.   

But how free are we when it comes to moving from one African country to another? To get an idea, we spoke to Ottilia Anna Maunganidze, the Head of Special Projects at the Institute for Security Studies.

Next we asked Loren Landau, Professor of Migration and Development, at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, whether he thought there should be freedom of movement between African countries.

The push to have a borderless Africa continues to be one of the top priorities of the AU. It has already created a continental passport to help people in search of employment and educational opportunities, move within the continent.

Ottilia Anna Maunganidze says that the future is bright for the freedom of movement, but political goodwill is critical for the success of its implementation.

Professor Loren Landau gives his perspective on some of the barriers to the freedom of movement.

Some regions have already started implementing the necessary policies to facilitate more movement of people. The Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), East African Community (EAC), and Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) have all facilitated regional freedom of movement of people within their individual regions. However, this regional integration has not been translated to the continental platform as many countries continue to have laws that restrict border movement.

Should there be freedom of movement between African countries ? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts!

Image by World Bank Collection via Flickr

Comments

LE

Top Comment

Just introduce United States of Africa with one universal identification card, then boom we will be richer than US and Europe combined.

AN
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VK
Security and states with different currencies limits the freedom of movement. Competition in business and investment is a factor too.

JK
Never.

CD
Yes they should open the boarders to each other

LP
No

AA
Yes of course

OO
This is long overdue and very crucial for Africa economic development. But it must be done with good intention and for economic sense.

KA
Soon there will be free movement. Already there is the free trade area coming along.

OL
Yes, with proper documentation

ZH
Trade in goods and services requires people to move around. Tourism requires free movement, so that people can choose to spend their next vacation in a nearby country and explore the natural beauty of Africa. Yes, freedom of establishment and freedom of residence still causes friction in many places around the world, especially with the prevalence of populist leaders springing everywhere, but for Africans it has been a normal way of life for many generations before the artificial borders were set up between neighbouring countries.

WI
I disagree. My country is already struggling to cope with its native population. We can't afford to let more people in.

AN
Absolutely! It would boost economies across the continent.