Regional mobility across Africa

Deepening regional integration to include free movement of people, capital and services is a priority to help meet Agenda 2063 and reach the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Visa-free regional blocs underpin regional integration. At the same time, greater regional mobility opens up opportunities for SMEs and young people by expanding their horizons Africa-wide.

In 2018, the continent’s open reciprocity (measuring ‘no visa’ policies) stood at 19% (up from 17% in 2017), and closed reciprocity at 33% (down from 36% in 2017). Progress is being made at regional level to allow free movement of people, but there is still a way to travel.

Visa-free access for other member states continues to vary across Africa’s Regional Economic Communities (RECs). As was the case in 2017, the top performing RECs on reciprocal open visa policies are ECOWAS (100%), EAC (90%), UMA (60%) and SADC (56%).

Three RECs improved their open reciprocity scores in 2018, including SADC, CEN-SAD and ECCAS. In the case of ECCAS, the score more than doubled, with 25% open reciprocity across the region. This ties into the decision of CEMAC (which includes six of the eleven ECCAS member states) to ratify free movement of people and visa-free travel as of October 2017. COMESA welcomed Tunisia and Somalia as new members in July 2018,36 paving the way for greater visa openness across the regional bloc, which currently has 19% open reciprocity.

Reciprocity of visa policies, % by RECs, 2017-2018

Reciprocity of visa policies, % by RECs, 2017-2018
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