Africans now have liberal access to over half of African countries, 2019 Africa Visa Openness Report shows.

Written by M. Anitha Jaotody 12 November 2019 No comments
Africans now have liberal access to over half of African countries, 2019 Africa Visa Openness Report shows.

In 2019, the strong progress made under Agenda 2063’s Flagship Projects evidence that countries and regions across Africa have realized the value of supporting Africans to travel more freely on the continent. 

Findings in the 4th edition of the Africa Visa Openness Index Report 2019, published by the African Development Bank and the Africa Union Commission, show that year-on-year, progress is undeniable and travelling across the continent is made easier. Today, African travellers no longer need a visa to travel to a quarter of other African countries, they have liberal access to 51% of the continent (visa-free or visa on arrival) and 21 countries now provide eVisa platforms (Up from 16 in 2018, 13 in 2017 and 9 in 2016). While the top 10 and top 20 continue to champion open visa policies, a record of 47 countries improved or maintained their visa openness scores.  

Ethiopia made the most progress in opening up its borders to African travellers, moving from 50th place in the 2018 edition to 18th place in 2019. As a result, in the last year, the country’s travel and tourism economy witnessed the largest growth of any country worldwide according to the World Travel &Tourism Council. Senegal also broke into the top 10 with the introduction of a visa-on-arrival policy for a number of African countries and removing visas required before travel.

With regards to reciprocity of visa policies by RECs, the top performing RECs – as was the case in 2018 and 2017− were ECOWAS (100%), EAC (60%), UMA (60%) and SADC (59%). 

Notwithstanding steady progress across all visa openness indicators, the ambition should not stop there. Moving forward, championing greater visa openness across Africa will help to capitalize on the gains to be realized from the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area, the Single African Air Transport Market and the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons. Solutions such as the African passport, visa-free regional blocs, multi-year visas, or visa-on-arrival schemes should continue to be promoted.

Download the Africa Visa Openness Index Report 2019


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