Africans Rising, a pan-African movement of people and organizations, working for unity, justice, peace and dignity in Africa, recently launched its People’s Petition for a Borderless Africa Campaign, aimed at the abolition of visa requirements for intra-African travel for Africans through the implementation of the AU Free Movement Protocol (AU-FMP).
Africans Rising’s three-year Borderless Africa Campaign promotes the abolition of visa requirements for intra-African travel for Africans by bringing into force the AU Free Movement Protocol (AU-FMP), which requires the ratification of the protocol by at least 15 AU Member States. Therefore, the drive supports the universalization of African citizenship, including the mass roll-out of the African Passport.
Recall, the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community relating to Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence, and Right of Establishment was signed by no less than 30 countries in 2018 at the 10th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, held in Kigali, Rwanda. At the summit, 44 heads of state signed the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). However, whereas 46 member states have since gone ahead to ratify the AfCFTA, only 4 member states have ratified the AU-FMP, as of February 2023.
Therefore, the People’s Petition for a Borderless Africa seeks the participation of African people in the borderless Africa campaign by signing an online petition that aims to collect 5 million signatures of African citizens across the world. In addition to the online petition, Africans Rising is deploying volunteers across 55 African countries to collect signatures and thumbprints of people who may not have the opportunity to sign the online petition due to limited access to the internet. The petition will be presented to the African Union at its headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on May 25, 2023, during the African Liberation Week.
If fully implemented alongside the AfCFTA, Africans Rising believes the AU-FMP is an opportunity to tap into the economic potential of young Africans and women. Experts believe that ensuring free movement of people, alongside the free movement of goods and services, is essential for achieving the goals of an integrated continent, including increasing intra-African trade. Therefore, the full implementation of the FMP, including the full operationalization of the African Passport, offers the most practicable solution to the continent’s intractable migration and mobility challenges.
While speaking during last week’s virtual launch of the People’s Petition for a Borderless Africa, Amb. Salah Hammad, head of the AGA-APSA Secretariat at the AU Commission, said whereas most AU states had ratified the AfCFTA, which seeks to facilitate free movement of goods and services, only very few countries have so far ratified the AU-FMP and therefore it was yet to enter into force, wondering how goods and services would move freely under the ACFTA when human beings could not.
“We therefore call on African parliamentarians to advocate for and lobby for the ratification of this very important protocol so that African people are not only able to move freely across borders without any restrictions but can also seek residence in other African countries including the right to establish themselves as African citizens. The AU will continue its campaign for FMP ratification, but it will need the help of civil society to raise awareness and disseminate information about this instrument in order to ensure its implementation. The citizens should lobby and advocate for an Africa that is borderless, united, and peaceful,” Hammad concluded.
Hon. Dzifa Gomashie, a Ghanaian Member of Parliament whose constituency borders Togo, said she was harassed numerous times while attempting to cross the border into Togo, despite the fact that both countries are members of the ECOWAS, which has a free movement protocol. Therefore, Hon. Gomashie believes the task of achieving free movement of African people must not be left solely in the hands of politicians, rather African youths should hold political leaders in their various countries accountable for the protocol.
“Enough of the rhetoric we have been hearing for over 50 years! There is a need for young people to speak up and call out politicians if we don’t do the right thing. In the same vein, when verifiable efforts are being made by political leaders, they should be applauded. The power we have as politicians was given to us by the people who voted us into political offices; therefore, the people have the power to demand that political power be used for their own benefit,” the Ghanaian MP stressed.
Ms Kim Poole, a diaspora-based soul-fusion performing artist, noted that while the AU recognizes the African Diaspora as Africa’s 6th region, there seems to be a barrier between diaspora Africans born in Africa and those born in Europe and America due to the forceful migration of their ancestors during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. She therefore called on African countries to grant citizenship to the latter class of Africans so they can meaningfully contribute towards creating the Africa We Want.
“If borderless Africa does not include the diaspora, then we are missing a major component of this conversation. Since there are Africans in the diaspora who have acknowledged their African roots, we should give them the legitimacy to come back home and contribute to building the Africa we all want. There are so many organizations in the diaspora that want to be a part of the African solution to African problems,” Ms Poole lamented.
The German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS), a leading global think-tank…