The African Union’s Free Movement of Persons Protocol: Why has it faltered and how can its objectives be achieved?


In January 2018, the African Union (AU) agreed to establish the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to the free flow of goods and services within Africa. Simultaneously, the AU adopted a protocol supporting the free movement of persons between the countries of Africa. Both are considered necessary for the successful social and economic development of the countries of the African continent. As of January 2021, 54 countries had signed the AfCFTA and 35 countries had fully ratified, whereas 33 countries had signed the Free Movement of Persons (FMP) Protocol and only four countries had fully ratified. Yet, barriers against migration within the African continent have been falling. This article analyses the reasons for the slow adoption of the protocol, looks at how the free movement agenda is progressing despite that, and suggests ways of moving the protocol and its agenda forward.

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