2019 Findings: Regional mobility across Africa

Against the backdrop of Agenda 2063 and progress realized with the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, there were positive developments across Africa in easing the mobility of African citizens across the continent. A number of Africa’s regional blocs also showed improvements.

Continent-wide, Africa’s open reciprocity (measuring ‘no visa’ policies) rose to 20% (up from 19% in 2018 and 17% in 2017), while closed reciprocity stood at 30% (down from 33% in 2018 and 36% in 2017).

Across Africa’s RECs, four maintained their open reciprocity scores, while three continued to improve their scores between 2016-19. In 2019, the top performing RECs – as was the case in 2018 and 2017 – were ECOWAS (100%), EAC (60%), UMA (60%) and SADC (59%).

SADC moved higher with an open reciprocity score of 59%, up from 56% in 2018 and 52% in 2017. Meanwhile, ECCAS totalled 29% open reciprocity, up from 25% in 2018 and 11% in 2017, and COMESA increased its score to 23% (up from 19% in 2018 and 21% in 2017).

As highlighted in the African Economic Outlook 2019, for integration initiatives such as the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons to be successful, each REC can improve the effectiveness of its policies before scaling up efforts continent-wide. 22 Opportunities exist for RECs to promote visa-free regional blocs or regional bloc visas from the menu of visa openness solutions.

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