Africa sees improvements in visa openness says report

Africa has seen great improvements in visa openness as Africans can travel to more countries visa-free, according to the 2019 Africa Visa Openness Index released on Monday.

For the first time, Africans on average can travel to approximately 27 countries visa-free or with a visa on arrival, said the report compiled by the African Union Commission (AU Commission) and African Development Bank (AfDB).

The progress on visa openness in Africa follows growing momentum for greater integration between countries and signals that policymakers across the continent are pushing reforms, making it easier for African businessmen and women, investors, students and tourists to travel, said the report, released on the sidelines of the Africa Investment Forum underway in Johannesburg.

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The report shows that 47 African countries improved or maintained their visa openness scores in 2019.

African travellers no longer need a visa to travel to a quarter of other African countries, whereas visa-free travel was only possible to a fifth of the continent in 2016, according to the report.

Currently, 21 African countries also offer eVisa platforms to make travel more accessible, up from 16 in 2018, 13 in 2017 and nine in 2016, said the report.

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The 2019 top performers on visa openness rank among the top countries for foreign direct investment in Africa and benefit from strong levels of growth, including in tourism, the report said.

The index shows that Seychelles and Benin remain the top two countries on visa openness in Africa, offering visa-free access to all Africans.

Ethiopia moved up by a record 32 places on the index and entered the top 20 most visa-open countries in Africa.

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“Our work on the Africa Visa Openness Index continues to monitor how Africa is doing on the free movement of people,’’ said AfDB President, Akinwumi Adesina.

Progress is being made but much still needs to be done, he added.

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