The African Development Bank (AfDB), last Friday, launched the first Africa Visa Openness Index (download PDF), which shows that Africa remains largely closed off to African travelers.
According to the report, on average, Africans need visas to travel to 55 percent of other African countries, can get visas on arrival in only 25 percent of other countries and don’t need a visa to travel to just 20 percent of other countries on the continent.
It says that Rwanda, which is listed among the top ten countries with open visa policies, was already witnessing the impact of this policy on tourism, investment and economic competitiveness.
According to The New Times, the Government of Rwanda, in 2013, directed that all travelers from African countries coming or transiting into the country would be getting visas on arrival.
The findings of the Visa Openness Index, which has been developed in partnership with McKinsey & Company and the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Agenda Council on Africa, will be presented and discussed at the Africa CEO Forum in Abidjan on 21-22 March 2016.
“Opening up a country’s visa regime is a quick-win on development that remains untapped,” says Moono Mupotola, Director of Regional Integration and Trade at the AfDB.
“Visa openness promotes talent mobility and business opportunities. Africa’s leaders and policymakers have a key role to play in helping Africans to move freely in support of Agenda 2063’s call to abolish visa requirements for all Africans by 2018.”
The report highlights regional and geographical differences. Currently, 75% of countries in the top 20 most visa-open countries on the continent are in West Africa or East Africa. Only one country in the top 20 is in North Africa and there are none in the top 20 from Central Africa.
The report also shows that Africa’s Middle Income Countries have low visa-openness scores overall, while the continent’s smaller, landlocked and island states are more open.
“When we started this work, only five African countries offered liberal access to all Africans; this number has grown to 13 over the past three years. We are making progress, but need to accelerate the pace,” says Acha Leke, Director of McKinsey & Company.
African countries stand to gain from promoting more visa-free regional blocs and pushing for greater reciprocity, as well as from introducing more visa on arrival policies for Africans, the report recommends.
At country level, Seychelles was ranked number one in Africa for its visa openness policy, offering visa-free access for all Africans.