The Africa Visa Openness Index, an initiative of the African Union and the African Development Bank that measures how open African countries are when it comes to visas, reports that more African countries are becoming open to one another. The report tracks changes in country scores over time to show which countries are making improvements that support a freer movement of people across Africa. The higher a country’s score in the Index, the more visa-open it is and the higher it ranks. Initiated three years ago, the report shows that African countries that adopted the visa-free policy for all nationals of African countries have made significant progress, increasing their credibility score.
Data on Africa Visa Openness Index for the year 2018 features some African countries that have made the list after adopting more liberal visa policies. In the top spot is Benin, after it relaxed its visa regime and introduced a visa-free policy for all nationals of African countries. Zimbabwe also recorded a huge leap with the introduction of a visa-on-arrival policy for South African Development Community (SADC) members.
The Top 10 visa-open African countries are:
- Seychelles (Visa free for Africans)
- Benin (Visa free for Africans)
- Cape Verde
According to the report, visa openness is a vital step toward a more integrated Africa. There are huge potential gains to be had for countries and regions across Africa in having more visa-open policies, whether it is to help plug skill gaps in the labor market, promote entrepreneurship, diversify the economy, add value to services or whether it is to attract and boost competitiveness.
Visa openness is about getting more people mobile, facilitating movement of people to carry out their business easily, quickly, with a minimum cost. That applies whether you are a businessman or businesswoman, a cross-border or entrepreneur, a student or researcher, reuniting with friends and family or just traveling to visit the sights.
“Regional integration and trade based upon the free movement of persons, goods, services, and capital is the core of the business of the African Development Bank,” said AfDB chairman Akinwumi A. Adesina
In future editions, the report will look at how countries are facilitating visa openness by cutting time, reducing costs, or simplifying the visa process as well as how far a visitor’s experience on the ground matches up to the agreements or visa policies in place on pap
As part of its efforts to enable freer movement between African countries, The African Union (AU) hopes to promote air connectivity and make it faster, less expensive and easier for Africans to travel within African. The continental body this year pioneered the launch of the African continental free trade and the single African transport market, another step to promote connectivity through.