Going beyond symbolism: The missing item in the African Union summit

Published: 28/Jan/2017
Source: The Ethiopian Reporter

Investment tends to follow infrastructural facilities. People follow transportation routes, job opportunities and money. Money attracts more money and also attracts talent. But above all, an infrastructure-supported mobility regime is sustainable and irreversible, even in the face of serious security and other challenges, writes Mehari Taddele Maru.

Former AU Commission Programme Coordinator of Migration, Dr Mehari Taddele Maru is adjunct assistant professor at Addis Ababa University, and a specialist in peace and security, international law and migration, public administration and management. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Reporter. He can be reached at mehari.maru@gmail.com.

Typically, new or lapsing conflicts dwarf the themes of African Union (AU) summits. Similarly, the 28th AU Summit in Addis Ababa, having adopted the theme of ‘Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in the Youth’, could easily be overshadowed by other developments, such as those in The Gambia, where concerted regional, continental and global efforts were made to ensure democratic transition of power, despite not being smooth.

While the Summit has several extremely important agenda items to consider, there was one highly awaited item that is missing from the agenda: the protocol for African free movement of persons.

It is to be recalled that in July 2016, in Kigali, in a symbolic move, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr Dlamini Zuma, handed African passports to heads of state and governments and ministers attending the various meetings. Naturally, given Madam Zuma’s South African nationality, we were forced to ask: indeed, will immigration officials of South Africa, or for that matter Rwanda or any African country, recognize the passport as a travel document having integrity and legal recognition? In addition, will the Kigali airport immigration authorities, recognize the passport, even though it was launched in Kigali?

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Themes: Identity Documents, ID Documents and Passports
Regions: Pan Africa
Year: 2017