The former president of Ghana, John Mahama, told an audience in Durban on Wednesday that it is important that African leaders put an end to visa travel requirements between African countries, according to reports from South Africa.
He was speaking at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium on the first day of the Pan-African Conference Programme, hosted by eThekwini Municipality, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, department of science and technology and others.
In attendance were learners, South Africa’s cooperative governance minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, acting eThekwini mayor Fawzia Peer and a host of academics and other dignitaries.
“Only 11% of our trade is estimated to be amongst African countries, the rest of our trade is directed outside the continent. If we implement this protocol that will allow us to open the borders, remove the tariffs and be able to move goods across our borders freely,” Mr. Mahama said.
According to the former Head of State, the African continent has not broken its Western colonial influence and this is detrimental to the preservation of African knowledge systems.
An inter-generational gap between young and old, cited as a cause for concern. Western influence believed to be the source. Leading to a further disconnect with those who carry the knowledge of the continent and those who need to take it forward.
“The question is, have we as people shaken off the shackles of Western European control and influence? The answer is no, we have not,” argues Mahama.
The sharing of resources and knowledge between countries in the continent will also improve the sustainability of African dignity and value systems.
Similarly, in May 2019, Mr. Mahama called on African leaders to adopt a visa-free regime within the shortest possible time to allow Africans travel freely into each other’s countries.
In a facebook message to celebrate AU Day on Saturday, 25 May 2019 he said Africans cannot trade freely and “connect our continent if we cannot travel freely into each other’s countries”.
He said this will help give meaning to the adoption and entering into the force the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). He charged other African leaders to learn the Ghanaian and Rwandan examples of a visa on arrival for holders of African passports.
Critics of visa-free travel among African countries have argued that some African nations are plagued by conflicts, terrorism and instability, reason why other African nations are not willing to grant visa upon arrival to citizens from other nations, they suggest that African leaders seek solutions for countries that are conflict-torn before advocating for visa-free travel among African countries.