Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS)


Member states: Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Rwanda, Sāo Tomé and Principe

Visa openness

The average of the AVOI scores of ECCAS’s 11 member states is lower than the average in any other REC—this, even though two top 20 performers (Burundi and Rwanda) are ECCAS member states (and Rwanda holds a perfect score). ECCAS’s low score is not for a lack of intent: ECCAS adopted its Protocol on Freedom of Movement and Rights of Establishment of Nationals of Members States some 40 years ago and has since made changes to accelerate the protocol’s implementation. Yet little progress has occurred and the free movement of persons is effective in only a few ECCAS member states. 

ECCAS’s low score reflects the sizable number of its members that figure among the continent’s least visa-open countries. Rwanda’s new visa-free policy raised the region’s average score this year, but most member states continue to require that visitors obtain a visa ahead of travel. The only ECCAS member state besides Rwanda whose AVOI score rose in 2023 is Equatorial Guinea, which extended visa-free travel privileges to citizens from neighbouring Cameroon. 

Angola’s score fell after it reversed its visa-on-arrival policy for the citizens of seven countries. In October 2023, however, after data collection closed for this report, Angola announced that it would offer visa-free entry to several African countries. This will improve Angola’s ranking next year.

Regional reciprocity

In general, ECCAS member states are more welcoming to fellow ECCAS members than to countries elsewhere in Africa. This is reflected in ECCAS’s reciprocity scores. In 31% of possible permutations, ECCAS members offer each other’s citizens visa-free entry; in another 31% of permutations, they require a visa ahead of travel. This means that in almost two-thirds of travel routes, countries reciprocate each other’s visa policy, even if those policies are not always liberal ones. The foundation for visa-free reciprocity within ECCAS lies in the fact that most members of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC), a six-nation subgroup within ECCAS, reciprocate visa-free entry.
Meanwhile, visa-free reciprocity within ECCAS grew from 27% in 2022 to 31% this year, reflective of more countries in the region granting visa-free entry to member states that do likewise. At 31%, ECCAS surpasses visa-free reciprocity on the continent by a healthy margin (visa-free reciprocity in Africa averages 21%). Like last year, ECCAS members do not reciprocate visa-on-arrival policies, mainly because only Burundi has such a policy; ECCAS’s other member states either require each other’s citizens to obtain a visa in advance or allow them to enter their territory visa-free.