Visa openness progress, 2016-2021

Although visa openness in Africa dropped slightly in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, scores have trended upward over the last five years. Close to half of countries have adopted a more liberal visa policy for African travellers since 2016, and a large number of the top performers added eVisas to their electronic border systems.

Yet close to half of countries with a low visa openness score do not offer a visa on arrival to visitors from elsewhere on the continent—and the number of those countries rose by 5% over the last year. The visa-on-arrival policy is an effective way to encourage the free movement of people on the continent; implementing it would boost regional integration and raise countries’ AVOI score.

Between 2016 and 2021

AVOI scores have trended upward

36 countries improved or maintained their AVOI score and 9 of the 2021 top 20 countries improved their AVOI score.

More countries offered an eVisa

13 of the countries that made the most progress on the AVOI from 2016–2021 offer an eVisa.

Lower-income countries made progress

Over 80% of countries that made the most progress are low-income or lower-middle-income countries.

Does income affect visa openness? Does geography?

17 of the 2021 top 20 countries are low-income or lower-middle-income countries.

5 of 7 of Africa’s upper-middle-income countries have a low visa openness score.

5 of 6 of Africa’s island states are among the 2021 top 20 performers (Seychelles, Cabo Verde, Mauritius, Comoros, Guinea-Bissau).

2 of 16 of Africa’s landlocked states are among the 2021 top 20 performers (Rwanda and Uganda).

Which countries progressed the most in the last five years?

In West Africa: Benin, The Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone

In Southern Africa: Angola, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe

In Central Africa: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Gabon, São Tomé and Príncipe

In East Africa: Rwanda, Tanzania

In North Africa: Egypt, Tunisia

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