The Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD)

Member states: Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Core d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Tunisia

Population: 553 million (2014)

GDP: USD 1 350.7 billion (2014)

Visa openness

The Community of Sahel-Saharan States was established in 1998. One of its objectives is the free movement of persons. Of the eight regional economic communities recognized by the African Union, CEN-SAD ranks third on the AVOI, behind ECOWAS and SADC.

Many highly-ranked countries are members of CEN-SAD: it is home to 7 of 10 of the AVOI’s highest performers, including Benin and The Gambia, which with Seychelles are the continent’s best performers. Another 4 CEN-SAD countries are among Africa’s top 20 performers.

Regional reciprocity

CEN-SAD’s high rankings on the AVOI do not translate into high reciprocity on visa openness within CEN-SAD. In over two-thirds of cases, CEN-SAD countries prohibit each other’s nationals from entering their territory without a visa. Furthermore, several of the continent’s leading countries (countries that figure among Africa’s top 10 performers) are less liberal to their fellow CEN-SAD members than they are to countries outside the CEN-SAD bloc. These countries offer visa-free travel to less than half of their fellow CEN-SAD members.

Côte d’Ivoire is CEN-SAD’S best performer on regional reciprocity, offering visa-free access to 16 of the remaining 23 CEN-SAD members, despite ranking only 27th out of 53 countries continent-wide. In contrast, while some CEN-SAD members rank among Africa’s top 20 performers, this is not always reflected at the regional level.

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