Member states: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development comprises eight East African countries whose visa regime varies significantly. Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Somalia are among the continent’s top 20 performers again in 2023, while Eritrea, South Sudan, and Sudan are among the bottom five. IGAD’s average is lower in 2023 than in 2020, but the REC has made upward strides in the past three years, including in the last year. More particularly, in 2020, IGAD’s member states endorsed a protocol on the free movement of persons: seven states signed it in December 2022, and the eighth signed it in 2023. The protocol seeks to facilitate the migration of labour and other human movement across the region to deepen regional economic integration and foster stability. For now, IGAD ranks sixth of eight RECs.
IGAD members’ visa policies are seldom reciprocal, and like last year, visa-free reciprocity (the mutual exchange of visa-free entry) is only present in 18% of possible travel permutations. Similarly low levels of reciprocity are seen for visas on arrival and visas ahead of travel. This indicates little policy congruence among IGAD member states and low levels of implementation. As mentioned above, however, member states have recently signed new initiatives to free the intra-regional movement of persons: once these measures have been implemented, they can be expected to ease regional travel going forward. In a recent development, member states are contemplating a regime that would furnish visitors from outside the bloc with a single electronic visa that allows them to move freely throughout the IGAD region. While this would not necessarily improve IGAD countries’ visa openness ranking, it would be a modern step that eases travel to and within the region by the citizens of non-IGAD countries. Of all IGAD’s member states, Kenya and Uganda demonstrate the most visa openness towards the citizens of other IGAD member states, and three of their fellow IGAD members reciprocate. However, both Kenya and Uganda still figure in the lower half of the AVOI’s country rankings.
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