Africa Speaks, the South Africa based civil society urges Ethiopia, the political capital of Africa, to introduce a visa free regime for African citizens.
“It is a considered view of Africa Speaks that Ethiopia, as the seat of the Africa Union should have implemented a Visa free regime for all member states of the Africa Union long before any other country,” said Africa Speaks in its statement.
Africa Speaks made the statement in its message that congratulated the Republic of Ghana for “the historic move of introducing a visaon-arrival policy which allows all citizens of AU member states to visit the country and obtain visas at a port of entry upon arrival for a stay of up to thirty 30 days.”
“South Africa as the second biggest host country of the AU organs like Pan African Parliament, The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), and African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), should ease and enter visa to facilitate African citizens to interact with these crucial organs. Africa speaks encourage other African countries, members of the AU to follow suit, for instance: Angola, Algeria, Cameroon, DRC, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, and Zambia etc,” it said.
“While Europeans and Americans are granted visa free into our shores, Africa is busy respecting and implementing the Berlin Balkanization in the form of colonial boarders. We limit our own and encourage untold suffering, with serious negative impact on trade among ourselves, causing billions of US Dollars to be syphoned off our shores.
Economic debate alone does not influence migration policies. Other considerations, including sociopolitical aspects, also play a role. However, the cost-benefit analysis of increased mobility can have an even stronger influence in shaping policies that can impact labor migration positively. There is an array of literature and migration models on the economic impact of free labor movement.
Empirical evidence has demonstrated that, free movement will not only encourage economic developments, it will encourage trade and create better opportunities and will drastically reduce unemployment and inequality, nurture and significantly develop entrepreneurship among other economic and cultural activities. Africa Speaks encouraged governments to embark on a visa free regime without further delays.
Those using issues of insecurity as an excuse should realize that they are retarding the development of their economies and that of the continent as a whole, according to Africa Speaks. “Continental free movement of citizens will go a long way to guarantee the achievement and sustainability of AU’s 2063 goals and a successful Pan Africanist values. Eventually, the visa restrictions mean that African countries are eluding out. One of the benefits of free movement of people that the visa restrictions have obstructed is the tourism sector. Tourism contributes to one in every eleven (11) jobs and 9% of gross domestic product worldwide.”
“With high youth unemployment, improved tourism could create thousands of jobs and help reduce inequality. More visitors mean more hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, and a growth in transport and entertainment sectors. The impact could be felt in both urban and rural areas according to Africa Development Bank,” it said.
Currently, and according to Africa Tourism Monitor report, Africa accounts for about 15% of the world population; it receives only about 3% of world tourism receipts and 5% of tourist arrivals.
The report further says that visa requirements imply missed economic opportunities for intra-regional trade, and the local service economy (such as cross-country medical services or education). Visa policies are among the most important governmental formalities negatively influencing international tourism. Businesses beyond tourism are affected too. Any entrepreneur or investor, when choosing a new country to venture into, one of the major considerations is the openness and ease of doing business, with free movement of labor, goods and services as key indicators.