Now in its eighth edition, the Africa Visa Openness Report 2023 presents this year’s findings of the Africa Visa Openness Index (AVOI), a joint initiative of the African Development Bank and the African Union Commission. Since 2016, the AVOI has tracked the visa regime of each country in Africa vis-à-vis every other African country and calculates each country’s score. It does the same for the eight regional economic communities recognized by the African Union. The continent’s progress on visa openness, chronicled in these pages, is encouraging. Despite the hurdles—a pandemic that grounded people around the world; conflicts that shut borders, sometimes without notice—visa openness is higher today than in any year measured by the AVOI. This is a noteworthy achievement in its own right: it makes it easier for Africans to visit their families, pursue education and business interests abroad, and discover Africa as tourists. It also contributes towards the fulfillment of aspirations for a prosperous, integrated continent where people can develop their potential unhampered by overly restrictive visa regimes. The AVOI is part of that movement. By tracking countries’ and regions’ scores over time, it tells us which countries and regions are advancing and which are not. It also explains the trends and exposes some of the innovations.
The AVOI would not exist were it not for the vision of the leadership of the African Development Bank and the African Union Commission. ‘Integrate Africa’ is one of the Bank’s High 5s, and free movement is a pillar of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and the African Union’s Agenda 2063. This report, and the analysis that informs it, are helping that vision take form.
I would like to thank Dr. Emile Rwagasana, the AUC’s Deputy Chief of Staff in the Bureau of the Deputy Chairperson, Sabelo Mbokazi, the AUC’s Head of Labour, Employment, and Migration, and Jean-Bertrand Azapmo, Principal Adviser to the AU’s Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry and Minerals, for their technical support and guidance. Special thanks go to Zodwa Florence Mabuza, who led the Bank's production of the report again this year, and to Gbanbele Coulibaly, Johanna Pangeiko Nautwima, and Tomoki Fukunaga, whose rigour in collecting and analyzing the data was of the highest standard.
The report was written by Eckart Naumann and edited by Jennifer Petrela. Peggy King Cointepas designed the report and graphics. They are an exceptional team.
Jean-Guy Afrika Acting Director, Regional Integration Coordination Office, African Development Bank Group
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