Rebounding after shocks
“We project that African economies will recover gradually from the pandemic, with GDP growth reaching 3.4% in 2021. Recovery is expected across the board: for oil-exporting countries, tourism-dependent economies, commodity-dependent economies, and non-resource-dependent economies.”
24 million Africans have been fully vaccinated so far—about 2% of the continent’s population
Two African airlines—Ethiopian Airlines and RwandAir—are piloting the IATA Travel Pass for travellers to store and manage certifications for COVID-19 tests or vaccines.
More than 15 African countries and regions have been awarded the World Travel & Tourism Council’s SafeTravelsTM stamp, which recognizes the adoption of global health and hygiene protocols.
Regional and global travel has experienced unprecedented disruptions over the last 18 months. As measures to contain the pandemic reached their peak, 43 African countries accounting for 80% of the 18 continent’s population closed their borders.
After borders re-opened, movement began again, but at a slower pace. Travellers were required to show their COVID-19 health status and pay for tests and other processes. Several African countries—especially those in East and West Africa—reintroduced stricter visa requirements in response to political and social fragility. Around the continent and the world, the new complexity of travel caused many people to stay home.
As Africa and the world continue to adapt to uncertainty around the epidemic, it will be important that they build resilience by taking full part in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The AfCFTA’s success depends on three elements: the free flow of goods, the free flow of services, and the free movement of people. By liberalizing access to their territory, African countries can unlock the AfCFTA’s social and economic potential.
- Average visa fee for Africans traveling on the continent: USD 63
- Range of visa fees, depending on the length of stay: USD 12 up to USD 250
- Average processing time for issuing a visa: 72 hours (3 days)
- Range of processing times where shown: 1-2 days to 10 days
Visa fees and processing times
High visa fees and arduous application processes are a major deterrent to travel in Africa, especially for businesspeople. A survey of one-third of countries spanning East, West, North, Southern, and Central Africa shows that visa fees, types of entry granted, and visa processing times vary widely. These variations make it arduous for travellers to visit several countries on the same trip. Simplifying visa applications, reducing fees, and decreasing processing times are important reforms that countries can make to open their borders and ease movement across the continent.
“I would not say Africa has a problem with mobility, it is more that it can be a very slow process. It is quite a bureaucratic procedure.”
“The commitment to Africans moving in their own continent is a top priority. We are saying to African Union member states, as part of implementing the roadmap of the [Free Movement of Persons] Protocol, first, relax visas and allow citizens to move.”
New solutions for intra-African travel
How can countries and regional economic communities expedite a safe and secure return to intra-African travel for tourism, business, and investment?
The WTTC Safe Travels Stamp
More than 15 African countries and regions have received the World Travel & Tourism Council’s SafeTravelsTM stamp, which recognizes the adoption of global health and hygiene protocols. Given a choice of destinations, travellers are more likely to opt for areas with the stamp.
The IATA Travel Pass
The airline industry’s travel pass allows passengers to manage travel documentation digitally and seamlessly. Two African airlines—Ethiopian Airlines and RwandAir—are piloting the IATA Travel Pass for travellers to store and manage24 certifications for COVID-19 tests or vaccines.
By putting more of the visa application process online, electronic visas (eVisas) make it easier for people to practice social distancing. eVisas also streamline the visa application process, open doors for travellers unable to visit a visa bureau in person, and save time for people who prefer to apply from home.
24 African countries offer an eVisa, 15 more than five years ago:
- 12 countries introduced an eVisa in the last five years.
- 9 of the AVOI’s top 20 performers offer an eVisa.
- Over 80% of countries offering an eVisa are in East, West, and Southern Africa.