Foreword by the African Development Bank

Over the past year, Africa has continued dismantling barriers to the movement of people across its borders. As this year’s Africa Visa Openness Index (AVOI) shows, the continent’s average visa openness score is higher than ever before.

It is particularly encouraging to note that pandemic-induced travel restrictions have now been fully abolished, and that visa openness today exceeds its pre-pandemic levels. Progress also continues on different facets of the AfCFTA, providing realistic prospects that the agreement’s benefits will soon be felt across the continent. The goal is clearer than ever: a more integrated continent where goods, services, capital, and people can move freely across borders.

As we read this eighth edition of the Africa Visa Openness Report,and reflect on progress since 2016, we take pride in noting that 35 countries have improved their score over the past eight years. In addition, four countries have abolished all visa requirements for African travellers, up from three last year and one in 2016. Today, 42 countries offer visa-free travel to the citizens of at least five other countries, and more countries reciprocate visa-free travel privileges than at any previous time.

The regional context remains an important driver of visa openness, with regional economic communities continuing to lead the way on human mobility. Six of the eight regional economic communities recognized by the African Union improved their members’ average visa openness over the past year. Some communities are showing fresh energy in implementing regional protocols that advance the free movement of persons.

That said, room for improvement remains. In 46% of country-to-country travel scenarios, Africans are still required to obtain visas at departure to travel to other African countries. Visa restrictions are especially pronounced in the northern and central Africa. Sustaining momentum on visa liberalization is vital to the realization of the ‘Africa We Want.’ Embracing liberal visa policies will not only facilitate seamless travel but also contribute to shared prosperity.

Marie-Laure Akin-Olugbade

Vice President,
Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery
African Development Bank Group