In DepthThe QuestionShould intra-African visas be dropped for Africans?

Mon,20Nov2017

Posted on Tuesday, 02 July 2013 10:47

Should intra-African visas be dropped for Africans?

On 1 January 2013, Rwanda started issuing visas on arrival for citizens of all African countries. In the african union and across Africa, politicians are debating lifting restrictions on the movement of goods and people.

 

Yes It is in keeping with our continental agenda. There is a need for us to make real our intentions of African unity. Some of the practical steps we need to take, like removing the borders, have been approached with a lack of political will from our political leaders. To allow the free movement of people will unleash a certain kind of energy that will propel us to get the economic independence that we want. If the borders came down, it would create opportunities for the redistribution of labour. There will be a movement of people, a movement of services and a movement of products – sent to where they are needed – and that is where we generate the level of economic activity that makes it beneficial to all of us. There is a lot of capacity building that we need, both physical infrastructure and human capacity. Issues of identification will be difficult, and you will get people taking advantage of the loopholes. So we need to start from the basics. We need competent people and strong institutions in place to be able to deal with the kind of challenges that may come from that process. We can do the implementation of infrastructure, but we need political will. It can be done in less than a decade and should be done as soon as possible.● Kofi Asamoah-Siaw, National secretary, Progressive People's Party, Ghana.

 


No We must, at the continental level, be able to deal with issues around trust and acceptance of each other, and have a common approach to dealing with the challenges of poverty. Intra-Africa trade is less than 10 percent because we are not trading with each other. So, if we can't trade, then what are we going to be moving for? Movement must be fuelled by trade so that you don't have aimless movements, which can be very destructive. A 'uni-visa' for Africa would create suspicions among ourselves because it makes others feel 'foreigners' are going to take our market spaces and jobs. In a number of African countries there is considerable tension and dislike of foreigners, and these are some of the fundamentals we need to address before we can even step up to say 'Do we actually have the capabilities of introducing a visa?' If there has to be a uni-visa for Africa, let it be propelled by increased trade and integration at the regional level. Let the people see the benefit of integration and that it deals with the resolution of their poverty levels, so there is an economic value. [If we push] for the uni-visa now, we can just end up producing a document which we can use to cross the border and yet you cannot be accepted and welcomed in the other country.● Felix Mutati, Leader of the parliamentary opposition and former commerce minister, Zambia.



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