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…
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.
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!