Botswana/Namibia: Accord on free movement between countries a ‘step in the right direction’

Responding to the news that Botswana and Namibia have agreed to allow people to move freely between the two countries, Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa, said:

“This agreement, which marks the first of its kind in Southern Africa, is a step in the right direction. In a region where irregular migrants have repeatedly been criminalized, this accord will not only reduce barriers to migration but also increase trade, offering a much-needed economic boost to each country and their people.

“This is a much-needed development for informal cross-border traders, especially women. This would hopefully facilitate their work which is crucial in alleviating poverty and food security in these countries.

“In the implementation of this agreement, we urge both Botswana and Namibia to take into consideration the needs of women traders who cross the border between the two countries on a regular basis.

“Other nations of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) must follow suit and commit to allowing free movement of people. Doing so could unlock the massive socio-economic potential of the region by empowering cross-border traders.

“Allowing the free movement of people, goods and services between states in the region is essential for boosting trade and offering greater access to job opportunities. By encouraging greater integration through free movement, the SADC can help to address poverty and inequality by providing greater economic and social mobility to its citizens.”


On 24 February, President of Botswana Mokgweetsi Masisi and Namibian President Hage Geingob will sign the agreement, which allows citizens of each nation to travel between the two countries using only their national identity cards.

In signing this agreement, the two countries are following the objectives of the SADC Protocol on Facilitation of Movement Persons Treaty, which encourages the free movement of people within the region. The treaty is yet to fully implemented across the region.

The two counties will soon unveil a one stop border post which will facilitate ease of trading.

Source: Amnesty International