Zimbabwe’s visa regime is among Africa’s most restrictive, after it was rated number 21 on the Visa Openness Index out of 54 countries on the continent.
Zimbabwe’s visa regime has three categories, namely A- in which citizens from selected countries are exempt from visa requirements, B – where citizens of the targeted countries apply for visas on arrival and C, where those falling in the group are required to apply for a visa while still in their home country.
The report by the African Development Bank (AfDB) measures how open African countries are when it comes to visas by looking at what they ask of citizens from other African countries when they travel. The report was also done in collaboration with the African Union Commission and the World Economic Forum measures.
According to the report, Zimbabwe at number 21 is tied with Zambia with a score of 0.433 points and in terms of visa openness by category Zimbabwe is ranked number 17 on No Visa, number 8 on Visa on arrival and 29 on Visa’s required.
South Africa is one of over 54% of African countries whose borders are not open to fellow Africans travelling from another country and therefore require a visa before they can enter. The more liberal or relaxed a country’s visa policy for travelers is, the more visa open they are. Data on visa openness was collected between September 2016 and January 2017.
The data found that Seychelles is the only country that is visa free for all Africans, and therefore ranked highest on the Africa Visa Openness Index. South Africa ranked 34th on the index, up one spot from 35th in 2016, as we provide visa-free entry to 14 countries and require a visa before entry from 40. While Africa has 55 countries, the report only features 54 countries recognised by the African Union.
Western Sahara is the least visa-open country as it requires a visa from travelers from all 54 countries on the continent. East Africa is the most visa-open region, while North-Africa is the least open.
Visa-openness is important building a bigger, more integrated market to promote greater stability and attract investment, according to the report.
“African countries are on average becoming more open to each other, with indications that travel within the continent is becoming easier. Africans currently don’t need a visa to travel to more countries than previously and they need visas to travel to fewer countries, ” it states.
Four countries moved into the top 20 most visa-open states on the index and over a third of countries put in place efforts to offer more liberal visa policies. At the same time, more countries announced specific measures to improve their visa regimes going forward.
Twenty-one of 55 African countries have moved upwards in rank on the index since 2015. Forty-seven countries have improved or maintained their visa openness scores. “When we started this work, only five African countries offered liberal access [visa-free or visa upon arrival entry] to all Africans. We are making progress, but need to accelerate the pace. For countries who have either visa-free or visa-on-arrival policies you can see the positive impact on the number of visitors to those countries. Over time, you’ll also see it in the trade figures,” said Acha Leke, Director, McKinsey and Company and member of the WEF Global Agenda Council on Africa.
See the full report on African Development Bank (AfDB) Group website.