In 2018, the African Union in implementing its flagship project on free movement of persons in Africa and the African passport, adopted the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Communities relating to Right of Entry, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment; as well as adopted the Guidelines on the Production, and issuance of the African Passport. The Protocol provides for temporary closure of borders and denial of entry to individuals on health and security considerations.
The Virtual Continental forum on Impact of COVID-19 on Free Movement of Persons in Africa took place virtually on 30 November 2020 to exchange ideas, experiences and build synergy on collective efforts to enhance free movement of persons in Africa, and to do so safely amidst COVID-19.
During the virtual forum, Dr. Peter Mathuki EABC CEO reflected on the effects of COVID 19 on free movement in their persons, services and cargo in the EAC region and the continent: Here are the highlights of the deliberations.
- EABC survey indicated East African Community Countries risk to lose approx. USD.37-USD.79 billion due to COVID-19. COVID-19 has impacted cash flow in Tourism by 92%, Transport logistics by 75% Retail by 63%.
- Need to eliminate COVID-19 related NTBs and facilitate free movement of persons & goods across African borders.
- Need to ease access to visa for Africans esp. women and youth.
- Strengthening the partnership between the public and private sector to enhance economic resilience & recover and protect jobs is important during this COVID-19 period.
- Liberalization of African skies will facilitate the free movement of persons and cargo.
- Preventing transmissions, deaths, social and economic are the goals of Africa Joint continental Strategy on COVID-19.
- COVID-19 should be a stimulus to launch the new public health order in Africa through investing in public health institutions and local manufacturing of medical interventions.
- Africa should rethink how to transform the economic model to enhance continental value chains in light of COVID-19 pandemic and future shock.
- Tourism (education, religious, leisure) is at the heart of trade contributing to appx. 7%-15% of the GDP in Africa countries.
- Africa should strengthen domestic, regional, continental tourism, boost innovation, enhance the confidence in travel (trust) and harmonize protocols for seamless traveling.
- Need for quick ratification of the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community Relating to Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment.
- Need for awareness on the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community Relating to Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment.