How are we going to experience free movement of goods without allowing free movement of people?- Kagame

On 9 August 2019 at 03:00

President Paul Kagame has said that the Protocol on the Free Movement of People holds many benefits including exemption of visa to travel within Africa among other valuable rights.

Kagame made the observation today morning as he launched the first Golden Business Forum themed, "Unlocking Africa Trade with Itself and the World", bringing together around 1000 participants from Africa, Asia, Europe and America. They include captains of industry, investors, and policymakers.

In January 2018, the African Union (AU) General Assembly approved implications of the Protocol on the Free Movement of People, its implementation process and issuance of African Passport.

During the signing of Continental Free Trade Area in March 2018, only 27 countries ratified free movement related clauses.

As he opened the forum, Kagame highlighted that over the past 15 years, African countries have been among the strongest performers on the World Bank’s Doing Business report.

Most importantly, the President said, the pace of regional and continental integration has accelerated significantly whereby the African Continental Free Trade Agreement is now in force while trading will commence in July 2020.

Kagame reiterated that the Protocol on the Free Movement of People has been signed, and the ratification process is underway noting that Africans will no longer require visas to travel within Africa, among other valuable rights once the protocol goes into effect.

He said it is not clear how a country ratifies free movement goods and decline to ratify free movement of people.

“How are we going to allow free movements of goods but you don’t allow free movement of people? We have to understand that even with most restrictions on movement of people and visas, people have been moving. They move across borders whether you give them visas or not,” said Kagame.

“Some of these people are brothers and sisters, only that they live on opposite side of what is known as the border. It is up to us the leaders to really make it easy for all because in the end we benefit without exception,” he added.

Similarly, Kagame said, the adoption of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) is set to eliminate internal barriers for African airlines.

“These agreements are set to remake African economies for the better, generating new opportunities for the firms who are ready to take full advantage. Of course, we expect that African companies will be in the lead, showing the way,” he stressed.

Kagame highlighted that the private sector is absolutely central to Africa’s adding that the CFTA will only produce expected results if the business community, make it work.

“The more we trade with each other, within Africa, the more we will be able export to the rest of the world, as well, but it increases the understanding of each other and creates a good relationship among our neighbors. Definitely, there is direct correlation,” he said.

The President emphasized that progress at the continental level complements what have been done in East African region where the region is working to build shared railway, infrastructure and power transmission.

The Single Customs Territory, and the associated digital applications, have enhanced trade facilitation.

Kagame said that these measures, among others, have already resulted in increased trade volumes within the region, and higher revenues.

Golden Business Forum brings together high profile investors and policy makers from across the World to discuss how to improve doing business in Africa, connecting African Investors to the world and existing Investment opportunity. It was hosted by Private Sector Federation in Rwanda.