The third edition of the Africa Visa Openness Index Report, published by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the African Union Commission (AUC), shows that although African countries are becoming open to each other, Africans are still required to have visas to travel to over half of the countries on the continent.
According to a statement released on Wednesday by the AUC, the percentage of African countries requiring visas from other AU-member countries dropped from 54 per cent last year to 51 per cent this year. Overall, Africans do not need visas to travel to 25 per cent of African countries, while they can get a visa on arrival in 24 per cent of African countries.
First published in 2016, the Visa Openness Index assesses the progress of African countries in relaxing their visa regimes. The report aims to show at a glance which countries are facilitating travel for citizens of other African countries.
43 countries improved or maintained their score, compared with 47 countries in the previous year. The Republic of Benin made the most progress in opening up its borders to African travellers, moving from the 27th position in 2017 to join Seychelles at the top of the index as the top-performing countries on visa openness. They both require no visa from all African passport holders – 53 African countries.
Other top-performing countries on the index are Rwanda (3rd), Togo (3rd), Guinea Bissau (5th), Uganda (5th), Ghana (7th), Cape Verde (8th), Kenya (9th), and Mozambique (10th).
Nigeria ranks 29 out of the 54 countries on the index. The country requires a visa from 35 African countries, while it provides visa on arrival for one, and requires no visa from 17 African countries.
“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,” said Kwesi Quartey, Deputy Chairperson of the AUC.
According to the AUC, the launch of African Continental Free Trade Area and the Single African Air Transport Market are major milestones in the creation of a regulatory environment that promotes air connectivity and makes it easier and cheaper for Africans to travel within Africa.
The AfDB will officially launch the 2018 Africa Visa Openness Report during the African Economic Conference (AEC) on December 4. The AEC, jointly organised by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, United Nations Development Programme and the AfDB, is taking place in Kigali, Rwanda from December 3-7.