All You Need To Know About the New Visa-Free Africa

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What is a Visa Free Africa?

  27 October 2017       Tripindigo       5 min read

The new visa-free Africa also called the "open border" passport is a proposed policy under the African Union (AU) 2063 Agenda, which is a strategic document with the vision for African development. The plan is to introduce a sole African passport issued by the member states of African Union and abolish visa requirements for all African citizens in every African country by 2018. Also this could greatly impact the African countries with regards to economic development, intra-regional trade, and regional integration.

Reasons for a visa-free Africa

The new visa-free Africa proposal embodies many opportunities as well as several challenges for the economy and security of the continent. In addition, the policy will bring cross-national benefits and considerable economic draws as a result of job and investment opportunities, improved tourism and elimination of trade barriers.

According to the AU’s 2063 Agenda, the visa policy has three primary components which include visa-on-arrival scheme for all African nationals, a minimum of 30-day visa for African citizen visiting another African country by 2018, and lastly, an introduction of a solitary national passport for all Africans by 2020.

One of the major goals outlined in "AU's Agenda 2063" is for an integrated continent which is united on all fronts. Some African countries have already abolished visa requirements for African citizens from African countries such as Ghana, Seychelles, Mauritius, and Rwanda. These countries issue visa-on-arrival to all African citizens and passport holders.

Reducing travel barriers has been goal for many African countries

Even some regional African countries have taken some steps towards the pan-African goal with an introduction of the visa-free policy. The Economic Community of West African States – ECOWAS was introduced to allow free movement for West Africans within the West African countries. Similarly, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was introduced to allow free movement within the Southern African countries.  African can also travel across the East African Community (EAC) member states with a single visa. There’s also a common visa policy which unites Zimbabwe and Zambia for the citizens to travel freely across the two countries.

Recently, the African Union Political Affairs office tweeted that Nigeria has decided to take a step toward the African free movement goal by issuing visa-on-arrival to all African citizens. But, Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information told The Associated Press that the country has no such plans.

Some exceptions to the rule

However, South Africa recently adopted a risk-based approach where there is an incremental removal of the movement formalities for frequent and trusted travellers. This includes students, government officials, business persons, and academics. According to the International Migration white paper published by the Department of Home Affairs in South Africa, Africa citizens should visit South Africa visa-free initially if there’s a return agreement.  The white paper states that Africa nationals can stay up to 90 days visa-free in South Africa.

There will also an agreement on standards for civil registration, immigration, and border management. Visas will only be required if the traveller has overstayed or has been considered for deportation, or if the traveller poses a security or civil registration risk. Travellers from countries where a large number of their nationals have abused the asylum system will also require a visa to enter South Africa.

Current African Open Border countries

As you can see from the table below some countries, have been more liberal than others when it comes to an open border policy with Seychelles leading the way in Africa. 

These inconsistencies on which counties require a visa and which do not definitely has restrictions on tourism, business travel and other far-reaching implications as well as admin and policy issues. Standardizing the open border policy across nations will go a long way into injecting economic growth with freedom of travel.

Ranking Country Visa openness by number of countries
No Visa required Visa on arrival Visa required
1 Seychelles 54 0 0
2 Uganda 18 36 0
3 Togo 16 38 0
4 Guinea Bissau 14 40 0
5 Cape Verde 16 37 1
6 Ghana 17 35 2
7 Mauritania 8 46 0
7 Mozambique 8 46 0
9 Mauritius 26 22 6
9 Rwanda 6 47 1
11 Djibouti 0 54 0
11 Madagascar 0 54 0
11 Comoros 0 54 0
11 Somalia 0 54 0
15 Kenya 18 30 6
15 Senegal 42 0 12
17 Tanzania 6 37 11
18 Gambia 28 0 26
19 Malawi 14 13 27
20 Burkina Faso 15 11 28
21 Zambia 13 13 28
21 Zimbabwe 17 8 29
23 Cote d'Ivoire 21 0 33
23 Tunisia 21 0 33
25 Guinea 20 0 34
25 Mali 20 0 34
27 Benin 18 0 36
27 Niger 18 0 36
27 Botswana 18 0 36
30 Nigeria 17 1 36
31 Swaziland 17 0 37
32 Lesotho 16 0 38
33 Sierra Leone 15 1 38
34 South Africa 14 0 40
34 Liberia 14 0 40
36 Namibia 13 0 41
36 São Tomé and Príncipe 13 0 41
38 Chad 11 2 41
39 Central Africa Republic 12 0 42
40 Congo republic 0 13 41
41 Morocco 9 0 45
42 Algeria 7 0 47
43 Democratic Republic of Congo 4 3 47
43 Egypt 0 8 46
45 Burundi 5 0 49
45 Cameroon 5 0 49
47 South Sudan 0 5 49
48 Gabon 3 1 50
49 Ethiopia 2 1 51
49 Eritrea 2 1 51
51 Sudan 1 2 51
52 Angola 1 1 52
53 Libya 1 0 53
54 Equatorial Guinea 0 0 54
54 Western Sahara 0 0 54

 

For more on countries that do not need a visa to enter Tanzania or Kenya click out our articles here

Pushing forward with a visa-free Africa

The implementation of the new visa-free Africa policy may have its challenges such as importing and exporting illegal goods, and risks of economic migration. However, the policy has many advantages such as improved security against cross-border crime, increased tourism, which will nurture the growth of unexploited markets across the continent.

At the end of the day, free movement of Africans is the strategic goal that can be achieved. All African countries should put systems in place to check these risks and ensure that the system is not abused.

Have your say

What do you think of an open border policy for Africa?Will it encourage you to travel to your neighbouring countries more often or explore other regions of Africa? Let us know what you think via our social media channels



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