2016 Findings: Visa Openness

Progress made on visa openness between 2015-2016

African countries are on average becoming more open to each other, with indications that travel within the continent is becoming easier. Progress has been made in 2016, compared to 2015, against each of the visa openness indicators. Africans currently don’t need a visa to travel to more countries than previously and they need visas to travel to fewer countries.

Average visa openness

Average visa openness, %, 2015-2016

The fall in the number of visas on arrival is due to some African countries having increased the number of ‘no visas’ for African travellers to replace the number of visas given on arrival.

Facilitating visa access improved in 2016, with fewer countries with low visa openness scores not offering any visas on arrival. At the same time, more countries offered eVisas in 2016.

e-visas graph

The top 20 most visa-open countries also improved their overall average score in 2016. The majority of African countries have either improved their visa openness scores (by offering visas on arrival or not requiring visas for other Africans) or have kept their 2015 scores.

Average score for the top 20 countries
  • 21 of 55 African countries have moved upwards in rank on the Index since 2015. 47 countries have improved or maintained their visa openness scores.
  • Seychelles is still the only country on the continent to o er visa-free access for all Africans.
  • Seychelles remains the top performing country on visa openness.

2016 Findings show where more progress is needed

Free movement of people continues to vary region by region. Central Africa still remains the most closed region. Good results in West Africa are due to the Free movement of persons protocol and in East Africa are a result of the high number of visa on arrival policies.

Still less than a quarter of all African countries provide liberal access at entry for all African citizens. To improve their scores countries can remove visas or offer more visas on arrival.

liberal access graph

Many of the continent’s regional and strategic hubs continue to have restrictive visa policies. Africa’s Upper Middle Income countries as a group have low visa openness scores.

UMICs who have low visa openness scores.

Africa’s small, landlocked and island states are more open, promoting trade links with their neighbours.

"When we started this work, only five African countries offered liberal access to all Africans. We are making progress, but need to accelerate the pace. For countries who have either visa-free or visa-on-arrival policies you can see the positive impact on the number of visitors to those countries. Over time, you’ll also see it in the trade figures."

- Acha Leke, Director, McKinsey & Company and member of the WEF Global Agenda Council on Africa