Looking ahead


As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to deal countless blows to lives and livelihoods across Africa and globally, the full force of the economic consequences has yet to be determined. While the overall impact varies by sectors and countries, the crisis has laid bare the critical need for ever closer cooperation and integration for the continent to respond and recover.

...there are fresh opportunities to capitalize on the momentum that will come with trading under the AfCFTA and progress on opening up Africa’s skies and freer movement of people.

As travel restrictions ease and measures put in place to contain the spread of the disease, there are fresh opportunities to capitalize on the momentum that will come with trading under the AfCFTA and progress on opening up Africa’s skies and freer movement of people.

Relaxing a country’s visa policies for other African travellers offers immediate benefits, supporting the hard-hit travel and tourism sector that provides critical incomes and jobs, as well as facilitating the ability to return to business and encouraging prospective investors.

The current crisis has shone a light on the value of mobilizing growth opportunities within Africa as well as the importance of fostering an exchange of skills and expertise, and the need to accelerate a digital transformation to shore up resilience against future shocks. Forward- looking countries have already adopted this approach through their visa openness policies, looking to create greater connectivity across different places, people and platforms. Recent trends show African countries that have set up online visa systems are at the same time taking action to adopt reforms that allow a more liberal access to other African visitors.

Against the backdrop of the 2020 crisis, African countries can take bold steps now to adopt liberal visa policies that open up travellers’ horizons, as well as those of the continent itself.

Visa openness solutions in 2020+ 

  • 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 sixth edition

The sixth edition of the Index will look at the longer-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on visa openness on the continent and the steps towards economic recovery in key sectors from tourism to investment.

The report will also go deeper into how the crisis opens up prospects for Africa’s countries and regions to use data- driven technology to streamline the travel experience for African visitors, at the same time as safeguarding security and health. In addition, the next report will include a focus on the cost of visas and set out the case for how reducing or eliminating fees can promote freer movement of people on the continent.

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