ON Thursday, Africa woke up to the wonderful news that Mozambique will in the next few days sign agreements for the removal of railway borders with Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Botswana.
This will make it possible for trains to cross national boundaries without changing locomotives and crews. The announcement was made by Mozambique’s Transport and Communications minister, Mateus Magala.
Mozambique is on the right path and history will vindicate that country.
Not so long ago, the governments of Botswana and Namibia jointly announced that they would soon make it possible for citizens of both countries to use national identification cards, instead of passports, when travelling between the two neighbouring nations.
That was indeed yet another progressive step. A country like Zimbabwe — with its tiny population of 15 million people — stands no chance when competing against global economic giants, for instance the United States or China. But a united Africa — whose total population stands at 1.4 billion — can stand toe to toe with these massive economic players.
The borders that divide Africa today stand as a barrier to the continent’s limitless potential for socio-economic growth and political stability. By perpetuating a fragmented state of affairs, these borders impede regional integration, hinder trade and investment, and impede the ability of African nations to address shared challenges effectively.
Dismantling the colonial borders holds the key to unlocking Africa’s true potential for the collective benefit of its citizens. There are countless reasons for this. For starters, border dismantlement would foster regional integration in Africa, leading to a collaborative approach in addressing common challenges.
By allowing the free movement of people, goods, and services, African nations can pool resources and expertise, amplify their collective bargaining power, and tackle issues such as security threats, climate change, and public health crises as a united front. In doing so, regional integration would foster stability and enable the continent to approach global issues with a stronger, unified voice.
Dismantling borders would unleash the untapped economic potential of Africa. By removing trade barriers, such as tariffs and onerous customs procedures, intra-African trade could flourish.
According to the African Development Bank, boosting intra-African trade from its current level of around 18% to a projected 50% by 2040 could exponentially increase Africa’s GDP growth.
By creating a larger and more integrated market, businesses would have access to a broader customer base, enabling economies of scale and attracting foreign direct investment.
Consequently, this would generate employment opportunities, reduce poverty, and enhance living standards across the continent.
Borders act as a hindrance to vital infrastructure projects in Africa. Dismantlement would pave the way for collaborative efforts to construct transnational transportation networks, such as roads, railways, and ports.
This interconnected infrastructure would enable the efficient movement of goods, people, and capital within and between countries, unlocking trade potential, and fostering cross-border economic integration. In turn, this would promote industrialisation, create jobs, and spur innovation, driving socio-economic progress.
Borders have inadvertently created divisions among African populations. When borders are dismantled, people from different countries will have greater opportunities to interact, fostering cultural exchange, and enhancing social cohesion.
Such cross-cultural interactions spur creativity, innovation, and the exchange of ideas, propelling societies forward. Eradicating borders would strengthen bonds within the African community and help build a shared, inclusive identity that celebrates diversity while uniting people under a common purpose.
Borders have, in some instances, caused conflicts and tensions within and between African nations. By dismantling borders, the focus would shift from competition and rivalry to collaboration and cooperation.
Shared challenges like security threats, terrorism, and political instability can be more effectively addressed through joint efforts. In this context, dismantling borders would foster stability and lead to increased trust, enabling African nations to tackle complex issues and build stronger, more resilient political systems.
Africa’s borders, remnants of colonial history, have long hampered progress and development.
By dismantling these barriers, the continent can unlock its true potential, fostering regional integration, stimulating economic growth, facilitating cross-border infrastructure development, fostering cultural exchange, and enhancing political stability.
It is time for Africa to embrace a future where unity and collective progress are the driving forces that shape its destiny.