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Thursday, 25 August 2016

What the African Union Is Learning from Brexit

On June 13, just days before the U.K. referendum, the African Union announced that it would launch a single African passport — a move that came as a refreshing shift from looking at borders to keep out risks to viewing borders as gateways to achieve higher economic development. The e-Passport, which officially launched on July 17, is an electronic document that permits all AU passport holders to enter any of the 54 AU member states without visa requirements. Much like the efforts that shaped the EU, the AU passport is a big step toward deeper integration among African nations by mobilizing the vast, wide-ranging resources to strengthen self-reliance and economic solidarity. The implications are great: Open borders could bring in access to a cheaper, wider variety of raw materials and services and can lower trade and operating costs by benefiting from economies of scale. Challenges caused by unemployment — whether due to non-availability of jobs or mismatch of skills — can also be tackled with free movement of labor. And, as an added bonus, the increasing troubles over accessing risky migration channels can be mitigated by providing better opportunities in the home countries.