Africans Rising, a Pan-African movement with membership across the continent and diaspora has launched what it calls the ‘People’s Petition for Borderless Africa’. 

The petition is meant to mobilize African voices to push for the free movement of African people in Africa, Movement Coordinator Hardi Yakubu said at the virtual ceremony to launch the petition.

He added that it was unacceptable for people from Europe or America or Asia to have more access to African countries than Africans themselves. Africans Rising members adopted the ‘Borderless Africa’ campaign at its All-African Movements Assembly held in August 2022 as a Pan-African campaign to rally Africans in the continent and diaspora towards greater African unity.

Speaking at the launch, Ghanaian MP, Dzifa Gomashie whose constituency shares boundaries with Togo lamented the slow pace of action in respect of free movement of persons in Africa. In her view, the African Continental Free Trade Area will have little consequence without the free movement of persons, because “it is the women and the ordinary people who move goods across the borders and those are the people I represent”.

On his part, the Head of African Governance Architecture at the African Union Commission, Ambassador Saleh Ahmed, noted that the launch of the petition came at an opportune time given the just concluded 36th African Union Summit, which emphasized the accelerated implemented of the AfCFTA. Ambassador Saleh expressed emphasized that the African Union Protocol on Free Movement of Persons was adopted to ensure free movement of African people.

However the ratification of the protocol by member states has been at a slow pace, only four countries have ratified it since its adoption in 2018. He charged African citizens to push their governments to ratify and implement the protocol as free movement was a pre-requisite to the achievement of the AU agenda 2063.

From the diaspora, Ms Kim Poole of Teaching Artist Institute, narrated her ordeal in Nigeria as an African from the diaspora. According to her, diaspora is recognized as the 6th region of Africa and yet there is still a border dividing the continent from its diaspora. She reiterated that the diaspora Africans recognize Africa as their motherland too and deserve to have access.

Ms. Memory Kachambwa of FEMNET mentioned gender as a critical dimension to the movement of the Pan-African agenda, as women as the most affected when it comes to movement across Africa’s borders.

She noted that the contributions of women in the early phase of Pan-Africanism had been almost erased and underscored the importance of involving the affected communities in the conversations surrounding the borderless Africa campaign.

The issue of intra-African travel has been a burning issue for sometime now with visas and border restrictions being the biggest obstacles. Some Regional Economic Communities have made advances in the ensuring that citizens can move across their countries visa-free African Union adopted a protocol on the Free Movement.

For example the ECOWAS passport allows citizens within the West Africa sub-region to move from one country to another visa-free. The ECA has also recently adopted the East Africa common passport. However, in most cases, travel across borders remains a challenge and visa restrictions remain across the continent.

The African Union adopted the protocol on free movement of persons but there is little enthusiasm to kick off its implementation, far less enthusiasm than the free movement of goods under the AfCFTA, and for the most part, it remains a high level document without much understanding at the grassroots. With the Borderless Africa campaign, Africans Rising is hoping to accelerate the ratification and implementation of the protocol and make free movement a reality for Africans in their own continent.

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