African countries have become extra open to every different with benin making the maximum progress in commencing up its borders to African guests, cites a document that assesses the development African nations have realized in relaxing their Visa regimes.
The third edition of Visa Openness Index Report 2018 published by using the African development financial institution and the Africa union commission stated that Benin moved from 27th area within the 2017 version to join Seychelles within the 1st place in the 2018 report, increasing its score by means of two hundred per cent. Benin is the second country on the continent after Seychelles to offer visa-loose get admission to to all african nations and the primary francophone united states of america to do so.
“primarily based on the revel in of Rwanda, i decided that Benin will now not require visas for Africans. South-south cooperation can make actual experience. My hope is that cooperation among Rwanda and Benin can serve for example,” the president of Benin, Patrice talon stated in February 2017 after it abolished quick-live visa for nationals of 31 African countries. The USA’s open visa policy for African site visitors from January 2017 changed into commended with the aid of the financial community of west African states (ECOWAS) as selling a people-focused method to integration inside the location.
“It’s a decision that gives weight to the objective of going from an ECOWAS of States to an ECOWAS of the people by 2020,” said Moustapha Cisse Lo, ECOWAS Parliament President.
Benin’s decision to open its borders came on the back of its Revealing Benin Action Programme which made tourism one of its key projects to drive economic development.
Following the move, total travel and tourism contributed 5.7% to Benin’s GDP in 2017, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council Economic Impact 2018 report.
This year, the Francophone country enforced additional measures to improve overall entry access to the country. Authorities announced that from March, non-Africans wishing to visit for less than a week with a valid passport and yellow fever certificate, can apply for a special tourist visa on arrival for a set fee.
Since April, global visitors could obtain an eVisa for Benin as part of the country’s Smart Gouv programmeto simplify entry and short stay visa processes, according to the Visa Openness Index Report.
Visa-free travel for Africans in Africa is scheduled to start by the end of 2018 but with just about 40 days to end the year, many feel that this will not materialize as only about 22 per cent of African countries have taken that step to open up their borders to other Africans.
The idea of having an African passport has not caught on with many countries on the continent due to fears of illegal immigration, smuggling, a spread of diseases, terrorism and the loss of local job markets, among others.
Despite a roadmap by the African Union (AU) to ensure a visa-free travel for Africans in Africa by 2020, Seychelles is the only country where visa-free travel is open to all Africans, as well as, to citizens of every nation. Ghana, Rwanda, Namibia, Mauritius, Benin and Kenya have all loosened travel restrictions for other African nationals.
Following an announcement by South Africa last month that it was relaxing its travel rules to revive its economy, Ethiopia followed suit, rolling out a visa-on-arrival regime for all Africans entering the country. This means that there would be no need for Africans to necessarily apply for visas before flying into the country. All African passport holders need to do is to fly in and have their visas stamped on arrival.
At the time of the announcement, Ethiopian authorities said a relaxed visa regime will enhance the country’s openness and enable it to harness the significant stopover transit traffic for Ethiopian Airlines, the national carrier, which is said to be Africa’s biggest and most profitable airline. Before this, Ethiopia had started issuing visas online for tourists and other visitors across the world.
Currently, the latest country to announce the visa-on-arrival policy for Africans is Botswana. Effective November 24, 2018, the Southern African country will be offering tourists visas on arrival to boost its tourism and other businesses, the president, Mokgweetsi Masisi announced this month.
At the moment, citizens of African countries still need a visa to travel to more than half of the continent’s 54 countries. This shows that more progress is needed to realise the free movement of people continent-wide, according to the Visa Openness Index.
The report which analyses the visa requirements set by each member state of the African Union for other member states seeking to enter their borders, aims to show at a glance which countries are facilitating travel for citizens of other African countries and how.
It also looks at whether these countries allow people to travel to their country without a visa; if travellers can get a visa on arrival in the country; or if visitors need to get a visa before travel.
This year’s findings show that the top 20 most visa-open countries continue to improve their average score, reflecting the countries’ more liberal visa policies. Overall, when compared to 2017, Africans do not need a visa to travel to 25% of other African countries (up from 22%); can get visas on arrival in 24% of other African countries (same as last year); and need visas to travel to 51% of other African countries (down from 54%), the report noted.
Rwanda continues to move up the Africa Visa Openness Index and ranks in third position in 2018, having improved access for nine countries on the continent, according to the report. Africans enjoy liberal access to Rwanda, with no visa required for 15 countries and visa on arrival for 38 countries.
Kenya moved up six places into the top 10 countries in the Africa Visa Openness Index in 2018. The country’s improved score follows its new visa-on-arrival policy for all Africans announced in 2017.
According to the report, Senegal rose steadily upwards in the top 20 as the country built on progress made since 2016, with improved visa-free access for more countries. It is one of few countries in the top 20 that does not offer visas on arrival.
It continued to move up the Africa Visa Openness Index and entered the top 20 countries in 2018. The country has made steady progress since 2016, improving its liberal access, including an e-government programme to improve the visa process.