Foreword by the African Development Bank

“There is no more debate. Countries and regions across Africa have realized the value of supporting Africans to travel more freely on the continent and are breaking down borders. But the ambition should not stop here. Global challenges, from inequality to climate change, are having a significant impact in Africa as well as elsewhere”

Dr. Khaled F. Sherif, Vice President, Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery, African Development Bank

Dr. Khaled F. Sherif, Vice President of Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery at the African Development Bank

There is no more debate. Countries and regions across Africa have realized the value of supporting Africans to travel more freely on the continent and are breaking down borders.

When the Africa Visa Openness Index started tracking how open African countries were for other African travellers, it was clear that urgent action was needed. Four years’ on, progress is undeniable; for the first time Africans now have liberal access to 51% of the continent. In 2019, a record 47 countries improved or maintained their visa openness scores, which on average are rising year-on-year. Today, African travellers no longer need a visa to travel to a quarter of other African countries, whereas visa-free travel was only possible to a fifth of the continent in 2016.

While the top 10 and top 20 continue to champion open visa policies, more countries in all regions are following this model, including most recently Africa’s upper-middle-income countries. To streamline the travellers’ experience, 21 countries Africa-wide now provide eVisa platforms boosting transparency and accessibility.

Thanks to Index data, decision-makers and policymakers across the continent have been empowered to take action to relax their visa regimes for African visitors with striking results. The 2019 top performers on visa openness rank among the top countries for foreign direct investment in Africa, and benefit from strong levels of growth, including in the tourism sector.

But the ambition should not stop here. Global challenges, from inequality to climate change, are having a significant impact in Africa as well as elsewhere. Our action to meet the Bank’s High 5 priorities and deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goals matters more than ever.

Now, as Africa paves a pathway to prosperity with the African Continental Free Trade Area, we are all responsible for accelerating its progress. Integration depends on investments and interconnectivity, and it is imperative that Africa’s population moves with greater freedom. The Africa Investment Forum, championed by the Bank, is part of this big vision of attracting investments to the continent, with the 2019 Market Days being held on 11-13 November.

The Bank, together with the African Union, is proud of changing the policy landscape on visa openness in Africa. From simple solutions to bold benefits, an open Africa is both viable and vital.

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