A Forward Look
Africans were able to travel more freely across the continent in 2016, as visa openness levels improved from 2015. The priority is to continue this positive trend and deliver on the AU’s decision for countries to issue visas on arrival for all Africans in line with Agenda 2063.
At the same time, African countries can make progress by facilitating visa procedures, cutting the time, documents and costs involved, as well as by making air travel cheaper and more accessible. Countries can also take advantage of technology developments and put in place electronic systems, which also promote regional security and cooperation. And, in a period of slow economic growth due to falling commodity prices, alongside a decline in international tourist arrivals in Africa, more open visa policies can help to re-energize the tourism industry, promote more African tourists and build the AU’s vision of Brand Africa.
Migration could break or make the future of the continent, according to a recent study by SEF, which includes a call to action for governments, business and civil society to promote freer movement of people that integrates economies and builds strong cultural and social ties. Going forward, greater visa openness in Africa can help to tackle global migration challenges, such as the Mediterranean crisis, while building a people-centered African integration that offers new travel, trade, leisure, study and job opportunities for all Africans.
This Index is going to expand the discussion about regional integration. It is time to check what leaders and governments are doing in terms of human mobility. You can see how much integration we need to make progress, taking into account the opportunities offered by a growing market that is going to grow to 2 billion by 2050.
- Visa on arrival for Africans
- Visa-free regional blocs
- Regional bloc visas
- Multi-year visas after assessing applicant
- Promoting positive reciprocity (for citizens of countries that relaxed visa requirements to benefit from similar requirements when visiting other African countries)
- Opening up on visas unilaterally
- Simplifying the visa process: documents required, fees, processing time, online applications (introducing eVisas can help to facilitate visitor access) Improving access to information: online and in different languages.
Travel Document Solutions
- Regional travel using regional passports or national identity cards
- African passport for business people (issued by competent authority to strict criteria)
- African passport for all African citizens (issued by national authorities to follow the African Union passport rolled out in 2016)
Africa Visa Openness Next Edition
The third edition of the Africa Visa Openness Index will widen its scope to cover both African countries’ visa openness policies (‘no visas,’ ‘visas on arrival’ and ‘visas required’) and, for the first time, their visa openness procedures. Indicators on countries’ visa procedures will measure the degree of openness in relation to time, cost and documents involved.
How far countries are facilitating travel is closely linked to the experience of African visitors on the ground, where lengthy forms, costly fees and uncertain delays put a break on travel plans. Countries may adopt liberal visa policies and not fully facilitate the ease of travel continent-wide. For example, eVisas support travel if information is readily available and online systems work effectively during the application process. Alternatively, weak internet access, a lack of transparency or high costs impact directly on the travel experience. Greater awareness of visa solutions is needed among governments and policy makers, and among business leaders and citizens who can highlight where gaps exist and call for reforms.