Regional Economic Communities: A closer look at visa openness

Member states: Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Rwanda, Sāo Tomé and Principe

Population: 158.3 million (2014)

GDP: USD 257.8 billion (2014)

Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS)

Visa openness

Collectively, the members of the Economic Community of Central African States rank lower on the AVOI than the members of any other regional economic community in Africa. ECCAS is home to two high-ranking countries— Rwanda (top 10) and Burundi (top 20) - but also a large number of the continent's least open countries, whose visa openness in some cases tends to be more confined towards other countries within the region.

"Because of the proximity of countries in regional groupings and their greater familiarity with each other, I think it likely that free movement will advance first among groupings within regional communities."

Alan Hirsch, Emeritus Professor of Development Policy and Practice at the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance, University of Capetown

Regional reciprocity

Regional visa-free reciprocity among ECCAS members sees 9 of 11 member states offering visa-free entry to at least one other member state; however, no visa-on-arrival options are offered on a reciprocal basis, meaning that where a visa on arrival is offered (primarily by Burundi), it is not reciprocated.

In terms of reciprocity writ large, Burundi and Equatorial Guinea score lowest: Burundi offers a visa-free or visa-on- arrival option to all other ECCAS members, mostly on a non-reciprocal basis, whereas Equatorial Guinea requires a visa from every other ECCAS member state, even though its nationals enjoy visa-free access to six ECCAS members and may obtain a visa on arrival when travelling to two others.

Regional overview, 2022