AfDB report shows wins in visa restrictions across Africa

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Travel VISA in a passport
Travel VISA in a passport: PHOTO/COURTESY:

African travellers have liberal access to over half the continent, the 2019 Africa Visa Openness Index published by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and African Union Commission has revealed.

The fourth edition of the report, launched on Monday on the sidelines of the Africa Investment Forum held in Johannesburg, shows that 47 countries improved or maintained their visa openness scores in 2019.

The report revealed that African visitors no longer need a visa to travel to a quarter of other African countries, whereas visa-free travel was only possible to a fifth of the continent in 2016. Currently, 21 African countries also offer electronic Visas to make travel more accessible, up from 16 in 2018, 13 in 2017, and 9 in 2016. The progress on visa openness in Africa follows growing momentum for greater integration between countries and signals that policymakers across the continent are pushing reforms, making it easier for African businessmen students and tourists to travel.

The Index shows that Seychelles and Benin remain the top two countries on visa openness in Africa, with their visa-free policy for all African visitors. Ethiopia moved up a record 32 places on the Index and entered the top 20 most visa-open countries in Africa.

Commenting on the findings of the report, AfDB President Akinwumi A. Adesina said:

 “Our work on the Openness Index continues to monitor how Africa is doing on free movement of people. Progress is being made but much still needs to be done. To integrate Africa, we should bring down the walls. The free movement of people, and especially labour mobility, are crucial for promoting investments.”

The Openness Index has inspired reforms in more than 10 African countries including Ghana, Benin, Tunisia, Ethiopia and Kenya, unlocking tremendous potential for the promotion of intra-regional tourism, trade and investments.

Despite the gains shown in the report, there is the need to move further. In 2019, only 26% of Africans are able to get visas on arrival in other African countries, up by only 1% compared to 2016.

Countries need to make more progress on visa regimes, including introducing visas-on-arrival. By breaking down borders, Africa will be able to capitalize on gains from regional integration initiatives such as the African Continental Free Trade Area, the Single African Air Transport Market, and the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons.

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