Visa free movement across Africa could greatly reduce migration to Europe, an African Union (AU) official has said.
The AU Commissioner for Social Affairs, Dr Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, said free movement of Africans within the continent would reduce the number of migrants risking their lives on dangerous journeys.
“If you have alternatives within the continent, then you don’t risk your life with a dangerous journey [out of the continent],” Dr Kaloko said in Addis Ababa Friday.
“For instance, Rwanda and Mauritius have registered economic benefits by allowing Africans visa free movement to their countries. If you move freely within Africa, trade will also be encouraged,” he told journalists on the sidelines of the African Heads of State Summit set to open Saturday.
The commissioner urged member states to follow the examples of Rwanda and Mauritius and create opportunities for Africans within the continent to and boost their economies, while reducing the number of those who die during the risky journeys to Europe.
Dr Kaloko further noted that the African Union was focusing more on programmes that bring lasting solutions to the African migration crisis.
“We are not in the business of crisis management concerning migration.
"We are trying to build the future Africa focusing on programmes such as employment and education,” he said.
Reports show that hundreds of thousands of Africans died while making dangerous journeys to seek better livelihoods in Europe and other developed countries.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that last year alone, some 1,500 Africans died attempting to make the journey from Libya to Europe.
Globally, more than one million refugees and migrants fled to Europe by sea, many on board dangerously inadequate vessels run by people smugglers last year.
UNHCR's latest figures also show that around 1.5 million people had reached Europe across the Mediterranean, mainly to Greece and Italy, in 2015. Of these, 3,735 were missing, believed drowned.