The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo has stressed the need to remove barriers to enhance free movement among Africans to ease cooperation and promote trade without considering free movement a threat to national security.
Mushikiwabo made the call on Saturday as she launched Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa, (CISSA) workshop on the theme centering on ‘Free movement of persons in Africa’.
The meeting brought together security chiefs and various experts from African countries.
Mushikiwabo recalled Africa Liberation Day celebrated on 25th May 2017 highlighting that no reason should keep Africa divided over colonial history.
“As we celebrate Africa Liberation Day, no reason should keep Africa divided along colonial boundaries making it the most closed continent over top reasons rooted on embargos taken for fellow Africans,” she said.
“Such decisions must be based on willingness to maintain security and protecting national economies and creating jobs. Free movement of people should not be directly associated with insecurity and socio-economic hardship; and that is why we must anticipate, prepare, share information and coordinate our collective security,” she said.
Mushikiwabo pointed out an example of Seychelles as‘the only African country to offer visa-free access for all Africans and the most open country to Africans’ which is ‘secure and has no particular socio-economic challenge.’
Mushikiwabo noted that only cooperation as a continent would help address Africa’s problems and urged Africans to learn from past mistakes to make improvements.
Terrorism, human trafficking and epidemics like Ebole are among areas pointed as challenges to free movement.
The Africa Visa Openness report 2017 carried out by World Bank, African Development Bank and African Union Commission indicates that 21 African countries have made a progress in facilitating free movement compared to previous 2015 report.
The report indicates that 40% of leading 20 African countries facilitating free movement are from East Africa, 35% being West, 20% from South and 5% from Northern Africa. No country from central Africa appears on the list.
The Secretary-General of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), Brig Gen Joseph Nzabamwita who also chairs CISSA said economy and trade improved since East African countries facilitated free movements.