Report: African Countries Are Becoming More Open to Each Other.

The latest report by Visa Openness Index shows African countries are becoming more open to each other, with indications that travel within the continent is getting easier.
Cape Town Airport. Credit: IOL
Cape Town Airport. Credit: IOL

The latest report by Visa Openness Index shows African countries are becoming more open to each other, with indications that travel within the continent is getting easier.

In this 3rd edition of the Africa Visa Openness Index Report 2018 published by the African Development Bank and the Africa Union Commission, the findings show that on average, African countries are becoming more open to each other.

The top 20 most visa-open countries continue to improve their average score, reflecting the countries’ more liberal visa policies. In addition, 43 countries improved or maintained their score.

  • Benin made the most progress in opening up its borders to African travellers, moving from 27th place in the 2017 edition to 1st place in the 2018 report.
  • Zimbabwe also broke into the top 20 with the introduction of a visa-on-arrival policy for SADC members.

Overall, when compared to 2017, Africans do not need a visa to travel to 25% of other African countries (up from 22%); can get visas on arrival in 24% of other African countries (same as last year); and need visas to travel to 51% of other African countries (down from 54%).

Regional integration and trade based upon the free movement of persons, goods, services, and capital is at the core of the business of the African Development Bank,” says Akinwumi A. Adesina, President, African Development Bank Group

However, the fact that Africans still require visas to travel to just over half of other African countries shows that more progress is needed to realize free movement of people continent-wide.

As infrastructure expands across Africa, and tangible trade and investment opportunities are put on the table, Africans will need to travel with greater ease. Solutions such as the African passport, visa-free regional blocs, multi-year visas, or visa-on-arrival schemes should continue to be promoted.

Looking at the recent development this year, such as the announcement by Ethiopia, Africa’s diplomatic capital, on the establishment of a visa-on-arrival regime for all African passport holders, Africa is indeed on an upward trajectory towards seamless borders and the free movement of its people. Commendable work has also gone into the actual roll-out of the African passport to the citizenry. Amb. Kwesi Quartey, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

The Visa Openness Index assesses the progress African countries have realized in relaxing their visa regimes.

The analysis goes into the visa requirements set by each member state of the African Union for other member states seeking to enter their borders.

The report aims to show at a glance which countries are facilitating travel for citizens of other African countries and how; whether they allow people to travel to their country without a visa; if travellers can get a visa on arrival in the country; or if visitors need to get a visa before travel.

Key findings of the 2018 Visa Openness Report

Somalia Passports. Credit: Quartz Africa.

Progress made on visa openness between 2016-2018

Compared to 2017 and 2016, progress has been made in 2018 against visa openness indicators. Africans currently do not need a visa to travel to more countries than in previous years, and they need visas to travel to fewer countries.

However, the fact that Africans still require visas to travel in just over half of other African countries shows more progress is needed to realize free movement of people continent-wide.

  • Africans do not need a visa to travel to 25% of other African countries (up from 22% in 2017, and 20% in 2016).
  • Africans can get visas on arrival in 24% of other African countries (also 24% in 2017, and 25% in 2016).
  • Africans need visas to travel to 51% of other African countries (down from 54% in 2017, and 55% in 2016).

There is an upward trend for African countries to be more open to each other when it comes to their visa policies. Over three-quarters of countries, Africa- wide scored the same or higher than before on the Index in 2018. And a quarter of countries moved up in rank from 2017.

  • 43 countries improved or maintained their score (47 countries in 2017)
  • 15 countries moved upwards in rank on the Index (12 in 2017).

Regional Overview

Free movement of people continues to vary region by region, in part reflecting regional policies. In 2018, the top 20 countries include the same number of countries in East Africa, West Africa, Southern Africa, and North Africa as in 2017 and no countries in Central Africa.

  • 8 countries in the top 20 most visa-open countries are in East Africa (Comoros, Djibouti, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Uganda, and Tanzania).
  • 7 countries in the top 20 most visa-open countries are in West Africa (Benin, Cabo Verde, G Gambia, Ghana, G G Guinea Bissau, GG Senegal, and Togo).
  • 4 countries in the top 20 most visa-open countries are in Southern Africa (Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe).
  • Only one country in the top 20 most visa-open countries is in North Africa (Mauritania).
  • Of the to 20 most-visa open countries, none are in Central Africa.

Open reciprocity (measuring ‘no visa’ policies) Africa-wide was 19% (up from 17% in 2017). Closed reciprocity Africa-wide was 33% (down from 36% in 2017).

Top performing RECs on open reciprocity include: ECOWAS (100%), EAC (90%), UMA (60%) and SADC (56%).

Africa’s small, landlocked and island states are more open, promoting trade links with their neighbours.

The website of the Visa Openness Index is accessible at www.visaopenness.org | Download the publication: https://bit.ly/2KDifYQ

Image Credit: Visa Openness Report

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