For the first time, African travellers have liberal access to over half the continent, the 2019 Africa Visa Openness Index published by the African Union Commission and African Development Bank, reveals.
The report was launched on Monday on the sidelines of the Africa Investment Forum, which opened in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Ranked among the top 20 countries on visa, openness is Mauritania in North Africa ranked first place, in West Africa, was Benin, Cabon Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal and Togo.
In East Africa, Comoro, Djibouti, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda made the list
While Madagascar, Mauritius, and Mozambique were among the only three South African countries to have also made the top 20’s.
Seychelles and Benin are the top-performing countries, offering visa-free access to all Africans.
Over half of the top 20 countries hold the most favourable passports for African travel which indicates that more liberal policies can promote their own citizens’ ease to travel.
The report showed that 47 countries improved or maintained their visa openness scores in 2019 as African visitors no longer need a visa to travel to a quarter of other African countries.
However, despite the improvement seen in the report, it is only a one per cent change from what was obtained in 2016 with only 26 per cent of Africans able to get visas on arrival in other African countries in 2019, while 49 per cent Africans in 2019 need visas to travel to other African countries –a decrease from recorded 51 per cent in 2018.
Currently, only 21 African countries out of the 54 African nations offer e-visa to make travel more accessible, an increment from 16 countries in 2018, 13 in 2017, and 9 in 2016.
The Africa Visa Openness Index measures how open African countries are in issuing visas, judging from questions asked citizens from other countries in Africa when they travel, ease of accessing visas before arrival, on arrival and or if other African citizens can visit a particular African country without a visa.
Despite the gains shown in the report, there is the need to move further. In 2019, only 26% of Africans are able to get visas on arrival in other African countries, up by only 1% compared to 2016.
Countries need to make more progress on visa regimes, including introducing visas-on-arrival. By breaking down borders, 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.
“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. I congratulate those member states that have taken measures to ease the procedures for the entry of African nationals into their territories, and urge those that have not yet done so to join this growing momentum,” said Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission.