Our Objective and Mandate
Free movement of people is a cornerstone of regional integration and the Bank’s vision to create the next global market in Africa. The Africa Visa Openness Index will play a central role in operationalizing the new strategy.
The High 5 development priorities for Africa driving the Bank’s work across the continent:
- Light up and power Africa
- Feed Africa
- Industrialize Africa
- Integrate Africa
- Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa
These focus areas are essential in transforming the lives of the African people and therefore consistent with the United Nations agenda on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Free movement of people is a cornerstone of regional integration and the Bank’s vision to create the next global market in Africa. Creating larger, more attractive markets and supporting intra-African trade are boosted by greater mobility. When business people and traders move more easily across the continent, thanks to liberal visa policies, they bring higher levels of investment, fresh skills and expand the range of goods and services on offer.
To deliver on Integrate Africa, the Bank is developing a new regional integration strategy to expand the size of the regional market through: building regional infrastructure; boosting intra-African trade and investment; and, facilitating the movement of people across borders. The Africa Visa Openness Index will play a central role in operationalizing the new strategy.
When it comes to greater visa openness, we know the business case. If we see Africa as one market, if we believe in integrating Africa and if we want to promote talent mobility all across Africa, greater freedom of movement is a necessity. As some recent global developments have led to more restrictive policies, Africa is moving toward greater openness and a connected vision of prosperity and hope. Let us aim higher together.
Foreword by the African Development Bank
Against a backdrop of falling commodity prices and slower growth prospects, 2016 has been a year of remarkable progress in opening up the continent, bringing greater potential for investment in key sectors of the economy. Over the last year, across Africa, business and government leaders took the visa openness debate centre-stage, and showed what can happen when countries take a strong stand. Over a third of African countries have more liberal visa policies than in 2015 and four countries have moved up into the top 20 most visa open countries.
This is welcome news. But we cannot stop here. Visa openness policies are the result of strong leadership and political will – take Ghana’s recent decision to o er visas on arrival for most African countries. E orts need to be reinforced and not reversed.
At the African Development Bank, we are trying to drive a continental visa policy reform programme for all of Africa. While we encourage reciprocity on visa issuance across countries, visa solutions can also be adopted unilaterally as is the case for Seychelles – once again the top performing country in Africa.
At the same many of the challenges and procedures facing people when they travel should be removed. We need to match the realities with the rhetoric. at is why, for our next edition of the Africa Visa Openness Index, we intend to look at the time, cost and documents involved in the visa process to improve the travel experience for African visitors on the ground. And, with this second edition, a new online platform is available to help visitors navigate countries’ visa policies, opening up more of the continent to more people.
Challenges to freedom of movement across Africa undoubtedly still exist. Policy makers, business leaders, civil society and engaged citizens need to highlight where gaps still exist to enable appropriate reforms to be undertaken. African governments are revising their immigration regulations with a view to facilitate movement across the Continent in line with the relevant decision of the Assembly of Heads of State, so as to a ord greater opportunities within Africa for our youth and to strengthen the culture of a united, integrated Africa, at peace with itself and with the world.
Foreword by the African Union Commission
By the end of 2016, Africa had advanced moderately towards greater freedom of movement for its people. e goal of an integrated Africa as envisaged in Agenda 2063 is slowly getting into sharper focus. e collective African Union decision for Member States to grant a 30-day visa-on-arrival to all African passport holders is being implemented by leading reformers such as Ghana, who this year have joined Rwanda, Mauritius and Seychelles to implement this system. Meanwhile, other African countries have also announced their intention to do so. eir experience follows in the footsteps of some Regional Economic Communities who have already established a system for free movement of people across their borders, such as ECOWAS and EAC.
Countries who have demonstrated such leadership need to be acknowledged. Findings of this second Africa Visa Openness Index highlight the positive momentum for promoting African travel across the Continent.
The process of facilitating visa issuance has improved tangibly since 2015. Besides, the majority of African countries have either opened up further or stayed the same during that period. e top 20 most visa- open countries have higher scores compared to the previous year, and only very few countries remain which do not yet grant visas on arrival.
In July 2016, another milestone was realized with the successful launch of the African Union Passport. is was issued to Heads of State and Government as well as high-level representatives. We are proud to report the tremendous interest in the initiative from governments, businesses and Africans across the Continent. The African Union has future plans to support Member States in rolling out the African Union passport to all citizens, granting them visa-free access to explore the Continent for business, pleasure, leisure and tourism.