Boosting Business in Africa Needs More Visa Openness

Applying for a visa is one of the hassles that makes travel into a country inconvenient. As a Spaniard travelling to Africa, I’ve had diverse experience depending on the country I visit. I don’t need any visa to enter South Africa, and I can get a visa on arrival to enter Kenya. The experience with Nigeria is that even if I start the application process two months in advance, chances are that I will get the visa just a couple of days before departure or so. And to get the visa, I need to have a ticket plane, so I need to buy it not knowing whether I’ll be able to use it or not. Quite a hassle, indeed! My Nigerian friends tell me that this is because Spain gives them a really hard time with visas, and they believe that the Nigerian embassy just reciprocates… Oh, well…

Visa openness helps boost business
Visa openness helps boost business

Travelling within Africa is also a hassle for Africans. The Africa Development Bank has published the Africa Visa Openness Report for the first time. It ranks countries on how open visa regimes are. This comes down to how easy it is for other Africans to visit that country. Some of the findings:

  • Seychelles is the only country with no visa requirements for other Africans;
  • 3 countries offer visa on arrival to all African travelers: Comoros, Madagascar, and Somalia;
  • 9 countries have a combination of no visa and visa on arrival: Mali, Uganda, Cape Verde, Togo, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Burundi;
  • 4 countries require visa to all other Africans: Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tomé and Príncipe, and Western Sahara.
Visa openness is an important facilitator of business and trade. It helps attracting investment and talent . Clearly, it’s a critical step towards the integration of Africa.

In 2013, the Africa Union committed to the Agenda 2063 aimed at ensuring positive socioeconomic transformation within the next 50 years. The Agenda aspirations include an integrated continent, and a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.

This is a tribute to Africans’ long-term mentality, which co-exists with extreme short-termism in an interesting way. The Africa Development Bank is aware of the need to bridge the short-term – log-term gap. That’s why they’ve published the Index: to make policymakers aware of the need to make visa reforms. Congratulations on starting to put the thread in the needle!

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8 thoughts on “Boosting Business in Africa Needs More Visa Openness

  1. Good Post!
    I think visa openness is a vital step to attract FDI and improve tourism sector.
    I personally think that the Nigerian embassy did not reciprocate! They might have followed the old bureaucratic procedures that many public sectors use til today in different countries.
    If they could make life easier for travelers, life would be easier for them.
    Thank you for sharing .

    1. Thank you, Khaled.
      On the point of reciprocity, the report on visas touches on it. It encourages countries to consider opening their policies without waiting for reciprocity to happen: if one opens, then another may follow and open. But it none moves until reciprocity is guaranteed this will slow down the process extremely…

    1. Thank you, Mireia” I hope you’re enjoying Cote d’Ivoire. The recent terrorist attack is a very sad event.

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