The African Development Bank said Monday that many countries still maintain unnecessary visa restrictions which are impeding the pace of integration.
In its latest visa openness index released in Johannesburg on the sidelines of the Africa Investment Forum, the Bank says few Africans can cross freely to another, but did not condemn any particular nation.
In 2019, shows the index, only 26% of Africans are able to get visas on arrival in other African countries. This means that when one wants to travel to some countries, they have to either go to an embassy in a 3rd country or even strangely get the visa from embassy of a European country in their country.
For example, this case shared by Patience Mutesi Gatera is typical of how rigid Africa borders are. On October 18, this is what she posted on Twitter: “Just met a friend who flew from #Kigali to #Nairobi just to get a Visa to #Malawi. The Visa costs $100, KGL-NBO return ticket $325 plus a full day wasted just to go get a stamp in your passport! Fam, we have a long way to go! #Africa WAKEUP!”
Mutesi is no alarmist. She is Rwanda Country Director for TradeMark East Africa, a trade development group, that among its projects has been building one-stop borders.
The AfDB is calling on the continent to “make more progress on visa regimes, including introducing visas-on-arrival.”
By breaking down borders,adds the Bank, Africa will be able to capitalize on gains from regional integration initiatives such as the African Continental Free Trade Area, the Single African Air Transport Market, and the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons.
Benin, Seychelles, Senegal, Rwanda and Guinea-Bissau emerged top in that order for visa openness. Whereas Equatorial Guinea, Libya and Sudan came at the bottom.
Rwanda is the champion for the east and central region. Uganda ranked 6th, Kenya is 13th, Tanzania at 29th, Burundi at 46, and South Sudan is at 49.
Surprisingly, DR Congo is ranked 45 despite being in its current state of lawlessness, far better than some countries.
“To integrate Africa, we should bring down the walls,” said said African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina. “The free movement of people, and especially labour mobility, are crucial for promoting investments.”
African Union Commission chair, Moussa Faki Mahamat also added his voice to the campaign saying: “It cannot be stressed enough how crucial integration is for the development of the continent and the fulfilment of its people’s aspiration to well-being.”