The African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs Dr Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko has urged African countries to ease their visa polices to stem migration from Africa to places like Europe by stimulating national and regional economic prospects in Africa.
The commissioner specifically praised Rwanda as well as the island nations of Mauritius and Seychelles for allowing visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to their countries for anyone carrying the passport of an African country.
“Easier movement of people across borders like what we see generally in West Africa won’t stop migration to richer nations, but the economic benefits will lessen the impact,” said Kaloko at a media briefing on the margins of the AU summit in Addis Ababa.
He added that there was no reason why a person with a United Kingdom or US passport could travel from Cairo to Cape Town largely unimpeded, while those with African passports encountered obstacles.
He particularly praised the west African nations which were impacted by the Ebola crisis in 2014 and 2015 and which, despite initially closing borders and cancelling flights, eventually opened their borders and came together to combat the pandemic.
Kaloko added however that the fight against Ebola should not be considered over. The African Union had already put in place medium to long term plans to deal with future Ebola outbreaks or other similar health crises.
One such proposal is the slightly-delayed plan for the establishment of the African Centre for Disease Control (ACDC) to be headquartered at the AU, with four regional collaboration centres to be established also.
The AU had planned to open the ACDC by August of last year, but a proposed meeting of health ministers that was to deliberate on the matter didn’t happen until November.
According to Kaloko an important meeting will be held in March this year to thrash out plans for a governing body of 10 ministers, two from each of Africa’s five regions, to pave the way for the inauguration of the ACDC.
“We want to build the confidence of our people in our ability to tackle pressing issues like health crises, and to this end the AU is collaborating with the US and China equivalents of the CDC, while also eyeing plans for similar ventures with the Europeans, ” he said.