Indeed, the decision that was taken by the African Union recently to introduce an African passport is a masterstroke. It is replete with value and benefits that strategically positions it to alter the face, if not fabric, of Africa, hence a par excellence game changer.
It goes without saying that the introduction of an African passport redounds to the furtherance of the worthy cause of Pan Africanism. The concept of Pan Africanism was pioneered and championed by iconic luminaries such as Marcus Garvey and Kwame Nkrumah respectively. It is premised on the notion that all the people of African origin ought to find a common ground where they converge and unite for the betterment of our motherland Africa. It can be submitted that the old age adage to the effect that united we stand divided we fall constitutes the philosophical underpinning of the concept.
Arguably the formation of the then Organization of African Unity on 25 May headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia marked a milestone if not the pinnacle of the advancement of the cause of Pan Africanism. The introduction of the African passport is a further milestone that contributes to the consolidation of the noble cause. It accomplishes this feat by opening up borders, so to speak, on the continent, thus facilitating movement of Africans in Africa. The resultant heightened mixing and mingling of Africans will lay particular emphasis on the unity among Africans as their rallying point. The attendant exchange of ideas and comparison of notes will be an icing on the cake. It will cement African coherence and cohesion which in turn will consign to obliteration undesirable divisions amongst African countries such as the balkanization along lines of former colonial masters such as Anglophone and Lusophone camps that tend to rear their ugly heads, for example ,during the election of the chairperson of the African Commission.
Perhaps the introduction of the African passport will score the highest on the economic front. The economic possibilities created by the move are endless and seamless. The African passport will effectively chip away at the behemoth of red tape and bureaucracy in respect of the movement of people ,goods and services, thus fostering commercial and industrial intercourse among African countries. In that regard , it translates into a shot in the arm of the of the cause of intra African trade which for donkey years has been subdued due to a dearth of pertinent support system.
Tourism is one economic sector that will receive an added impetus to thrive in consequence of the dismantlement of of the barriers in respect of the movement of people. In the final analysis, the move supports the agenda of the industrialization of Africa which is material to the achievement of accelerated inclusive and sustainable economic development on the continent. In particular, the move amounts to a boost to the Agenda and Roadmap for Industrialization that was recently crafted unveiled by Zimbabwe on behalf of the Southern African Development Committee (SADC). The resultant economic prosperity will go a long way in dispelling the perception of Africa as the Dark Continent populated by hewers of wood and drawers of water to suggest what Franz Fanon referred to as the Wretched of the Earth. In fact the doom prophesied by the Economist magazine in 2000 when it described Africa as the hopeless continent will be shattered. This will also translate into real independence which capacitates Africa to be an equal member in the comity of nations capable of determining her destiny.
However, it is imperative to note that for all its virtues the introduction of the African passport has its downside. The most apparent, if not pronounced, problematic feature of the move is its potential to abet and aid the menace of terrorism that has erupted and taken root to ravage parts of Africa. By virtually opening up borders, the African passport will make it easier for terrorists to move from one country to another and further destabilize the continent. This is a serious threat that calls for a holistic approach to thwart, lest it will unleash an avalanche of trouble that will drown the continent into a cesspool of doom.
Image Credit: UN