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African Union to launch the United States of Africa
By admin July 15, 2016

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While United Kingdom was in the mired in conflict and controversy whether to leave the European Union (EU) two weeks before the Brexit vote, the African Union (AU) announced a new electronic passport that will grant visa-free access to all members of the AU. The plan will be officially launched in the upcoming African Union Summit from July 10th to 18th at Kigali, Rwanda. The AU said in a statement that this flagship project was first agreed upon in 2014 and fits within the framework of Africa’s Agenda 2063 with the specific aim of facilitating free movement of persons, goods and services around the continent in order to foster trade within the African continent and spur socio-economic development.

The electronic passport that AU will try to pass is very similar to the Schengen Agreement of the EU. Africa’s Agenda 2063 is part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that was first introduced in 2013 in order to achieve unity, prosperity, and peace in Africa. Introduction of the electronic all-African passport will be one of the first concrete and pragmatic action to actualize Africa’s Agenda 2063. The AU wants to abolish the requirements for citizens of Africa visiting African counties by 2018.

Travel in Africa has been difficult for most Africans. With the current passport system, an individual is required to have a visa for more than half of the countries in Africa. According to Africa Visa Openess Report 2016, only 13-countries offer liberal access (no visa required or visa issued on arrival) to all African citizens and 20-countries opened to the United States citizens. Since more African countries have open diplomatic relations with the US – more so than other African countries – it’s easier for an American to travel inside the continent than a fellow African. An interesting story that the richest person in Africa was not allowed to enter South Africa while one of his staff who is a citizen of the US entered in smoothly demonstrates this unusual conundrum.

According to the World Bank, Intra-African trade also cost more than any other region because of the barriers in trade. The African Union wants to establish a free-trade deal across the continent by 2017, as intra-African trade costs more than any other region. According to Africa Visa Openess Report 2016, easing entrance requirements would support economic growth, as in Rwanda, the GDP and tourism revenues boosted after abolishing visas.

However, there are some risks and threats to this openness policy. Critics worry that it may mobilize terrorists to execute their deadly plans by travelling more easily between countries. Others speculate that it may increase competition for jobs and may lead to more xenophobic and political terror attacks as has happened in the EU. In spite of many voices of concern, most of the member countries sees this plan in positive way. Although some illegal groups or individuals may well try to exploit this system, the opportunities it will bring look too great to miss.

 

 

For More Information:

United States of Africa? African Union launches all-Africa passport

The opposite of Brexit: African Union launches an all-Africa passport

The African Union is introducing a single passport to make travel on the continent easier for Africans

Deepening African Integration: Intra-Africa Trade for Development and Poverty Reduction

Africa and its visa pains —where even billionaire Dangote-type big fish have nightmares

Africa Visa Openness Report 2016


Thanks for sharing !


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