A Forward Look

How fast the journey will be to reach a united, open Africa depends on decision-makers, policymakers, businesses, investors, travellers as well as all citizens on the continent.

The data on visa openness in Africa shows that the continent is steadfastly on track, as strong progress is made for the fourth year in a row. Many more Africans can travel more easily and freely to a wider number of countries from across all regions than ever before. But, the pace can and should be stepped up. Trading is due to start under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in July 2020, and as goods move, business people and investors need to move. Bold changes to the way in which Africa can do business call for fresh visa solutions, such as offering visas on arrival, visa-free regional blocs, regional bloc visas, positive reciprocity arrangements and unilaterally opening up on visas.

African countries at the forefront of visa openness include many of those that are championing Africa’s landmark integration efforts, having ratified the AfCFTA and signed the SAATM and the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons. They have put in place a number of visa openness options by providing liberal access to both African and global travellers, issuing more visas on arrival rather than visas before travel, and setting up eVisa platforms. In turn, the top performing countries on visa openness in Africa are among the top countries for foreign direct investment on the continent and are seeing growth in the tourism sector.

Moving ahead, more countries Africa-wide need to build a closer cooperation and adopt the technology and digital systems that are allowing Africans to move freely on the continent.

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

- H.E Kwesi Quartey

Visa Solutions in 2019+ 

  • 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 Index fifth edition

The fifth edition of the Index will take a closer look at the practical experiences of African travellers when it comes to crossing borders on the continent. From the different processes, documents, fees and time involved to the electronic platforms, more accessible information and reduction in costs and processes that are lowering the administrative burden of travel.

Follow, and be part of, the debate on the Africa Visa Openness Index: www.visaopenness.org

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