Regional overview, 2021

Where are Africa’s top performers?

In 2021, close to half of the top performing countries were in West Africa. The remaining top performers were in East, Southern, and North Africa.

No Central African country has yet featured among the AVOI’s most visa-open countries. This calls for assisting countries in Central Africa to reform their visa regime.

“Where we've seen some resilience is when there's domestic travel. The free-trade agreement is an absolute game changer for travel. If 97% of commodities and goods are tariff-free, that's going to do a lot for regional trade. And when there's regional trade, travel will follow.”

Wayne Godwin, Senior Vice-President, JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group for Sub-Saharan Africa

How did regional economic communities perform?

Parallel to the fall in the average AVOI score for African countries, 2021 saw a slight regression in visa openness within the continent’s regional economic communities (RECs), whose average score fell to 0.417 in 2021 from 0.483 in 2020.


Open reciprocity—the practice of two countries reciprocating each other’s open visa policy—fell by 1 percentage point in 2021, from 20% to 19%.

Closed reciprocity—two countries applying similarly restrictive visa policies for each other’s citizens—rose by 5 percentage points, from 27% to 32%.

Compared to five years ago, open reciprocity is on the rise, and closed reciprocity is receding.

90% of EAC's members reciprocate each others’ open visa policies

Among Africa’s RECs, EAC, ECOWAS, SADC, and AMU practice open reciprocity the most. Countries that are members of these four RECs reciprocate each other’s open visa policies more than countries that are members of Africa’s other RECs do.

What percentage of REC member countries do not require a visa of the nationals of other member countries?

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