People, Travel

Africans Teaching EU How Unity Works

Africans Teaching EU How Unity Works
Africans Teaching EU How Unity Works

As the European Union risks falling apart in the wake of Brexit, regional integration in Africa—once modeled after the EU—is making progress.

At the African Union summit later this month, the AU will introduce a single passport to make travel to all 54 member countries of the union possible. The AU passport is part of an eventual goal of creating a “continent with seamless borders”, Quartz reported.

Travel in Africa is difficult for most Africans. They are required to have visas for over half of the countries on the continent. Only 13 African countries allow other Africans to enter without a visa or give visas on arrival.

The goal of the African Union passport is to help turn Africa into a “continent with seamless borders” modeled after the European Union’s Schengen Area.

Giving the passports to state leaders is a “symbolic and significant” step, according to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chair of the African Union Commission.

Officials have been pushing for increased freedom of movement ever since the Organization of African Unity, a precursor to the AU, was established in the 1960s. The idea has gained traction over the last few years, due to the continent’s improving economic fortunes and population growth.

The AU wants to abolish visa requirements for all African citizens visiting African countries by 2018 and establish a free trade area across the continent by 2017.

Establishing a single common currency for the AU, while still far off, may not be all that unrealistic. Regional blocs are already moving closer to using a common currency.

This week, former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, called on the Economic Community of West African States, better known as ECOWAS, to introduce “eco”, a single currency for West Africa.

“We have decided that our unit of currency will be ‘eco.’ Let us now start using eco. Let eco become our unit of currency,” Obasanjo said at a meeting of the ECOWAS commission on July 4.

A single currency for all of Africa is still far off. In the early 1990s, establishing a monetary union was laid out as a goal to be achieved by around 2020. It has since been put on the back burner with the African Union deciding not to include it as part of its 2063 agenda for integration. Instead, the AU passport would be the first main step.