A borderless Africa is inevitable

Monday December 9 2019

Panelists from left Chairperson African Unioin

Panelists from left Chairperson African Unioin Moussa Faki Muhamat, Rwanda President Paul Kagame, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi, and Former Kenya Prime Minister Raila Odinga discuss issues during Kusi Ideas Festival at Intare Conference arena in Kigali, Rwanda on December 8, 2019. Photo/ JARED NYATAYA 

By ALLAN OLINGO

Africa will mature by giving priority to its own citizens, if it takes advantage of its millennials, who are the most hopeful generations across the world.

Speaking during a panel discussion at the ongoing Kusi Ideas Festival at Intare Arena in Kigali Rwanda, Mukhisa Kituyi, the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, (UNCTAD) said that the continent currently has a generation of young people who are more interested in collaborations than competition.

The discussion themed, “Borderless Africa and Why it is a Winner saw the panelists, Dr Kituyi, Mr Linus Gitahi, a board member of Msingi East Africa and Clare Akamanzi, the chief executive officer of Rwanda Development Board (RDB) push for a borderless continent that can allow young people to freely interact, invest and migrate within the continent as they seek to push for their own growth.

“These young people look for opportunities beyond national frontiers. They overlook analog boundaries and all the physical boundaries as they chase their dreams. This is the future and governments now need to create policies for them to ease travel, access and movement across the continent,” Dr Kituyi said.

The continent leaders were also challenged to open up their borders to migrants and allow them to thrive within the continent as opposed to being self-centered and closed up, putting restrictive travel and migration policies.

“We need to understand that almost 53 per cent of migrant movements is intra African and for Africa, we should take advantage of this. Migrants are good both for the country they move to in terms of new and fresh human resource and also the countries they come from, through remittances.
We need to encourage that,” Dr Kituyi said, adding, “The millennials want to trade the way they go about their activities in the social media. We cannot do them a favour. In the next 60 years, Africa will realise a mobilisation competition and the best example is the teen activist who is mobilising her campaign through social media and mobilising for a cause. This is the future and we need to offer the best ground work for these kind of people to thrive.”

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Ms Akamanzi gave Rwanda as the perfect example on how a borderless vision can spur growth in the continent.

“There is no reason to fear opening our borders. And as Rwanda we have championed this for the last five years and it’s really helped us attract visitors, investments and this is what a borderless Africa entails,” she said.

“We open up policies and make it so easy to set up businesses. This is a good example with firms that have set up through ideas and prototypes. We help them set up then expand to the rest of the continent. Those are some great examples of how this can be done.”

Mr Gitahi challenged governments to focus on new educational curriculum pushing for digi-tech, which he said is the future.

“We have to invest in the right education that encourages entrepreneurship and create digi-tech. It is now important that we must create and support nontraditional careers like creative arts, creative business,” he said, “We have to aggressively support our youths to protect their assets. Governments should have policies that protect these creative ideas through patents and copy right registration.”

African governments were also urged to support the youths in accessing capital to promote their enterprise ideas, as this will help them become viable and also create employment.

“We must encourage our small and medium enterprises (SME’s) to integrate and prosper. We should give them easy access to capital and also a good business environment. They are being run by young people and this will spur their growth story,” Mr Gitahi said.

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