The African Development Bank, in collaboration with the African Union Commission and the World Economic Forum has launched the second edition of the Africa Visa Openness Index, which measures how open African countries are when it comes to visas provision. This is through looking at what they ask of citizens from other African countries when they travel.
It aims to show at a glance which countries are facilitating travel for citizens of other countries and how: whether they allow people to travel to their country without a visa; if travelers can get a visa on arrival in the country; or whether visitors need to obtain a visa before travel. Overall, Africans were able to travel more freely across the continent in 2016, as visa openness levels improved from 2015. However, many challenges remained.
The second Africa Visa Openness Index highlights pervasive regional differences in visa openness performance. For example, 75 percent of countries in the top 20 most visa-open countries are in either East or West Africa, while 20 per cent are in Southern Africa. Only one country in the top 20 most open to visas is in North Africa (Mauritania), while no countries in Central Africa rank in the top 20. “I need 38 visas to move around Africa,” says Aliko Dangote, President and CEO of Dangote Group. Seychelles continues to lead the Index and remains the only African country on the continent to offer visa-free access for all Africans. Uganda was second in the continent followed by Togo in third position. Rwanda was ranked 9th, Somalia at 11th position, Kenya 15th and Tanzania at 17th position.
According to the report, 40 per cent of countries in the top 20 most visa-open countries are in East Africa; 35 per cent are in West Africa; 20 per cent are in Southern Africa and 5 per cent are in North Africa. Central Africa still remains the most closed region. The good results in West Africa are due to the free movement of persons’ protocol and in East Africa are a result of the high number of visa on arrival policies. By Drake Nyamugabwa