Will Africa Soon be Borderless?

Image: PHOTO: There are no national borders visible from space, will Africa's political divisions soon resemble such a landscape? (photo via Wikimedia Commons)
Image: PHOTO: There are no national borders visible from space, will Africa's political divisions soon resemble such a landscape? (photo via Wikimedia Commons)
Mia Taylor
by Mia Taylor
Last updated: 1:46 PM ET, Thu December 7, 2017

Several African countries have begun laying the foundation for the creation of a borderless continent.

During his inauguration speech last week, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced the country will now grant visas on arrival to all Africans, according to the Associated Press.

Kenya is the third African nation to adopt such a measure, behind Benin and Rwanda.

These developments are part of a grander vision that leaders on the continent have been discussing for quite some time-free movement across all of Africa. There's even talk of a single African passport.

"The freer we are to travel and live with one another, the more integrated and appreciative of our diversity we will become," Kenyatta said according to the Associated Press.

In addition to becoming more appreciative of diversity, the hope is that by making travel easier in Africa, trade and economic growth will flourish. Trade among African countries is a mere 16 percent. By comparison, trade among member European Union countries is 70 percent.

The measures taken by Kenya, Benin and Rwanda are being applauded by the African Union, which described them as the right direction for the 54-nation continent.

"I urge all African states that have not yet done so to take similar measures," AU Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat said on Twitter after Kenya's announcement.

Under current visa policies across the continent, North Americans have a much easier time traveling than Africans, who need visas to visit 54 percent of the countries.

While Kenya, Rwanda and Benin have taken the boldest steps, other African countries are going visa-free by region. For example, a few weeks ago the Central African Economic and Monetary Community eliminated visa requirements for citizens in its six member countries of Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, the Republic of the Congo and Equatorial Guinea.

Nations throughout Africa rely on tourism for foreign currency. Additionally, it is hoped that Kenya's new visa policy will be a boon for the country that has scared off some travelers due to the threat of Islamic extremists from neighboring Somalia.

Bobby Kamani, who runs the popular Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa in Kenya's second largest city, Mombasa, described the Kenyan president's move as a very important one for the tourism industry.

"The president's bold move couldn't have come at a better time when the tourism sector has experienced uncertainty and is now in recovery mode," said Kamani.

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