The move by the 25-nation Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) to abolish visas for their business travellers, researchers, sportspeople and well-known artists among other professionals heralds the dawn of unconstrained visionary thinking in Africa.
It is a shame that for a long time, Africa’s protectionist policies have confined people within their countries, denying them the opportunity to network, but opened doors to foreigners from developed nations. Consequently, foreigners from developed countries have become expert commentators on African issues.
It is in this light that the move should be embraced by all African nations-not in word only, but in deed. Although 15 states of West Africa's ECOWAS bloc enacted a scheme of a common passport and travel without visas within their zone, many travellers complain that they regularly suffer harassment or extortion as foreigners, particularly at security checkpoints. In May this year, Guinea-Bissau—which is home to an estimated 150,000 foreigners, told immigrants to register with the authorities or risk being kicked out of the country.
Just as the free movement of goods across frontiers is a method by which individuals of respective countries of the world benefit from their comparative productive advantages, free movement of people, each pursuing his own personal interest, assures distribution of labour among the various geographical areas in the pattern conducive to social prosperity. It must be implemented speedily!