East African Community (EAC)



Member states: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Uganda

Visa openness

Average visa openness in the EAC has improved over the past year but the bloc still ranks fifth of the eight RECs, behind COMESA and ahead of IGAD. Of the EAC’s seven member states, only Kenya, Rwanda, and South Sudan improved their performance over the past year; the performance of the EAC’s other four members did not change. Kenya’s improvement was to extend visa-free entry privileges to the citizens of Djibouti and Mozambique, while Rwanda’s was to extend it to all nationalities on the continent (for details, see the spotlight on Rwanda). South Sudan shifted to a visa-on-arrival regime for the citizens of Burundi and Rwanda.
Three EAC member states—Burundi, Rwanda, and Tanzania—are among the AVOI’s top 20 performers this year. Indeed, Rwanda holds a perfect score. 

Regional reciprocity

The EAC is an established customs union whose roots date to 1917. Economic integration within the EAC is high and the region has worked hard to align member states’ external tariff regimes so that goods may circulate within the region without some of the barriers usually associated with cross-border trade. 

The next step towards greater economic prosperity is to break down or reduce barriers that undermine the movement of persons. The EAC’s high visa-free reciprocity score of 71%, second only to ECOWAS’s, attests to the region’s progress in this regard. The EAC’s score means that in almost three-quarters of possible travel permutations, EAC member states dispense each other’s citizens from requiring a visa to enter their territory. The remaining permutations are evenly split between offering a visa on arrival and requiring a visa ahead of travel. 

On the whole, EAC member states are significantly more open to each other than to citizens from elsewhere on the continent.