East African Community (EAC)

Member states: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Uganda

Population: 283.7 million

GDP: USD 305.3 billion

Visa openness

Of the eight regional economic communities recognized by the African Union, the average AVOI score of the members of the East African Community is fifth highest. Counting only seven member states, the EAC is home to high-ranking countries—Rwanda (top 10), Burundi (top 20), and Tanzania (top 20).

I’d like to think of the Free Movement Protocol, the joint Labour Migration Program, the Single African Air Transport Market, and the AfCFTA, as being four wheels of a vehicle. If one of those wheels does not move right, the vehicle will possibly grind to a halt…"

Maureen Achieng, Chief of Mission and International Organization for Migration Representative to the AU, UNECA, and the IGAD in Ethiopia

Regional reciprocity

As a customs union, the EAC has significantly reduced intra-regional barriers to trade. This is reflected in its relatively high score on regional reciprocity: 71% for visa-free access and an additional 5% for visas on arrival, for a combined score of 76%. Six of the EAC’s seven members require a visa from only one other member. The Democratic Republic of Congo ranks lowest within the EAC: it reciprocates visa-free entry only with Burundi and Rwanda, and to visit other EAC member states, nationals of the Democratic Republic of Congo must obtain a visa. On the whole, however, visa openness within the EAC is significantly higher than the visa openness of EAC member states vis-à-vis the continent.

"The movement of persons is essential to regional integration, to cross-border business linkages, to the cross-border supply or consumption of specific services, and to sectors such as tourism."

Trudi Hartzenberg, Executive Director, 
Trade Law Centre (tralac)

On the whole, visa openness within the EAC and on a reciprocal basis is significantly higher than the visa openness of EAC member states vis-à-vis the continent.

" I’m going back to Goma via Uganda and I’m sure this is the last time I’ll pay for a visa."

Rita Muhindo, Congolese cross-border trader in Kenya

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