Foreword by the African Union Commission

“A continent without travel and document restrictions is an Africa we can be proud of. Here, an African business traveller can meet contacts in another capital at a moment’s notice; an African family can visit eco-tourism sites in a neighbouring country with ease; and African students can move freely across national borders to gain the labour market skills they need”

H.E Kwesi Quartey, Deputy Chairperson, African Union Commission

Thomas Kwesi Quartey

The question is no longer whether an Africa with seamless borders is within reach, but how soon this will be, is the case.

The speed with which countries have moved to operationalize the landmark African Continental Free Trade Area in 2019, is testament to the leadership of countries Africa-wide. The growing momentum to sign the Single African Air Transport Market and the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons is encouraging, and I urge all countries to take action to do so.

It is clear that the aspiration for an integrated Africa, with free movement of people, as set out in Agenda 2063, remains unchanged. In 2019, the African Union Commission also moved further ahead on the development and production of the African passport for all citizens. In this context, the Africa Visa Openness Index, jointly developed by the African Union Commission and the African Development Bank, now in its fourth edition, plays a pivotal role.

The 2019 findings show that African countries are increasingly open to African travellers. The majority of countries and regions have made steady progress across all visa openness indicators, with 13 countries having moved upwards in rank on the Index in 2019.

This latest Report shows that Seychelles and Benin remain the top two countries on visa openness in Africa, with their visa-free policy for all African visitors. In 2019, countries showed that dramatic changes are possible with a simple policy shift. Ethiopia for example, has moved up by a record 32 places on the Index, and entered the top 20 most visa-open countries in Africa.

An African continent without travel and document restrictions should be an Africa we can be proud of. Here, an African business traveller can meet contacts in another capital at a moment’s notice; an African family can visit eco-tourism sites in a neighboring country with ease; and African students can move freely across national borders to gain the labour market skills they need.

As Africa’s integration milestones usher in an era of closer cooperation and connectivity for all African citizens, it is time to collectively take down the barriers that remain and reap the benefits.

“The thesis, Africa Must Unite, remains unassailable.”

Kwame Nkrumah, Africa Must Unite, 1963

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