Africa’s leaders and policymakers have long identified connectivity, tourism and, more broadly, mobility—human, capital and otherwise—as key to the continent’s economic structural transformation. For example, the African Union’s Agenda 2063, through seven key aspirations, has identified several programs and initiatives promoting connectivity and mobility as central to accelerating shared growth and development in Africa, as well as to forging a common identity.
Among its flagship projects intended to realize this ambition, the bloc has identified the need for an integrated high-speed train network connecting the continent’s capitals and commercial centers; a continent-wide free trade area, known today as the African Continental Free Trade Area; the removal of restrictions on Africans’ ability to travel, work and live within their own continent, including with the creation of a continent-wide passport; a single African air transport market; and the establishment of a pan-African forum for financial institutions. Tourism, labor mobility and technological innovation have similarly been identified as the building blocks of the continent’s poverty reduction, economic transformation and innovation agenda.
Taken together, these elements ostensibly constitute a plan by the continent’s political leaders, regional economic communities and continental bodies to blaze a pathway for Africa’s economic development and integration. The difficulty lies in translating this grand ambition into concrete, measurable outputs in real time.