Intelligence chiefs rally behind Africa’s visa-free movement

Delegates follow proceedings during the meeting (Photo by New Times)

The heads of intelligence and security from across Africa met in Rwanda’s capital Kigali over the weekend to consider interventions towards the realisation of having unrestricted movement of Africans across the continent.

The heads met under the umbrella body, Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA).

The meeting was preceded by a gathering of members of African Union committee on free movement of people in the country’s city.

The AU gathering finalised a draft protocol that, among other aspects, promotes the African passport, principles of right of entry, non-discrimination, right of residence as well as protection from unjustified expulsion, the New Times reports.

Several countries expressed concerns that opening up borders could see an increase of cross-border crimes such as smuggling of weapons and contraband, human trafficking, illicit trade, among others, this according to the Executive Secretary of CISSA, Shimeles Semayat

Public health threats such as Ebola as well as unequal development among countries which could see big economies overwhelmed by labour immigrants were also among the challenges expressed by African countries.

“There are concerns that criminal syndicates will exploit the opportunity of free movement and use ships, air and land transport to their advantage. CISSA will work to put in place precautionary strategies to deal with real and perceived threats,” Semayat said, the New Times quotes him say.

The intelligence forces also plan to increasingly share information among themselves to address cross-border crimes that may arise from free movement of people.

Visa free movement is to increase investments and industrial growth, increased job creation, larger market for African goods, increased integration and deeper intra-regional trade.

A recent report by the African Development Bank showed that African passport holders continue to face visa hurdles when travelling to other African countries.