Would an Africa in which Africans require no visas to travel boost prospects for intracontinental trade?
The African Union (AU) and many of the continent’s economic organisations think so and want it to be a reality by 2020. It is not an entirely original concept (the European Union already has a visa-free policy for its citizens), and many experts laud the AU’s position, at least in principle.
The idea of an African passport dates back a quarter of a century but has failed to catch on with countries that fear an increase in smuggling, illegal immigration, terrorism, and the spread of disease as well as a negative impact on local job markets. With migration, legal and illegal, blamed for recent outbreaks of xenophobia in South Africa, some of these fears seem credible.