Is Africa Becoming Ripe for James Bond?
With the recent Brexit, one could question the validity of various countries forming a union. One ex-British government official said that about 50% of his job while in the government was involved with instituting rulings imposed by the EU.
Africa has several trade blocks such as the ECOWAS, EAC, COMESA, SADC, ECCAS and AMU. These were designed to help countries trade under standardized special rules thus improving intra-African trade and travel.
I remember the first time I stepped off the plane in Accra, Ghana. We trudged towards customs. We were separated into three lines; residents, visitors and ECOWAS. The ECOWAS line was by far the shortest and fastest moving line. How do I get to be a part of that line? Easy, carry the passport of one of the 15 countries that make up ECOWAS. It was designed to promote West African economic integration in all fields of activity.
The African Union has undertaken a much more ambitious plan. It was originally outlined in the framework of Africa Agenda 2063. This agenda lays out 7 specific aspirations for the continent.
One recent development, the AU passport is reflected in aspirations 2 and 7, which speak of an “integrated” and “unified” continent. The goal of the AU passport is “facilitating free movement of persons, goods and services around the continent — in order to foster intra-Africa trade, integration and socio-economic development,” according to the AU.
Long ago, Bob Marley wrote a song called “Africa Unite”:
’Cause we’re moving right out of Babylon,
And we’re going to our Father’s land, yea-ea.
How good and how pleasant it would be before God and man, yea-eah!
To see the unification of all Africans, yeah! –
As it’s been said a’ready, let it be done, yeah!
AU Commissioner for Political Affairs Dr. Aisha Abdullahi said that Africa could soon become borderless and the plan for a single African passport is in progress and so far, two countries — Rwanda and Mauritius — have implemented it, Zegabi reported.
Other unions across the world have abolished passports. For example, the border-free Schengen Area (a creation of the Schengen Agreement), where 26 European countries (22 of the 28 European Union (EU) member states) have abolished passports and other border controls. The member states have a common visa policy, which facilitates the free movement of people.
As of now, Africans must have visas to visit more than half of the countries on the continent; there are only 13 African countries that allow African travelers to enter without a visa. (Meanwhile, Americans can visit 20 countries in Africa sans visa, more than the locals.)
Intra-African trade also costs more than any other region. A truck serving supermarkets in southern Africa needs to carry as many as 1,600 documents, including permits and licenses, in order to cross borders, according to Anabel Gonzalez, senior director of a World Bank group on trade and global competitiveness.
So, with the African Union passport, Africans could move freely from country to country. That does not come without its own set of problems. It means that terrorists such as Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, Al Qaeda and others can also move freely.
It will take Britain and the European Union some time to determine if James Bond will need visas to travel in Europe. But the African Union is setting the stage for an African James Bond to freely travel Africa, as well as all of its citizens.
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