South African government has announced that Ghana and São Tomé citizens have been granted visa-free entry into the country. The minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi made this known when he tabled the department’s budget in parliament.
The parliament added 7 countries to its list of visa-free countries, of which 2 were African nations – Ghana and São Tomé and Principe. The other countries are Cuba, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
At the moment, out of the 193 countries that are member states of the United Nations, the department has granted visa-free status to 75 countries excluding countries like Nigeria and China. Motsoaledi who also addressed this issue emphasized that discussions are still ongoing on how a visa-free regime will work with Nigeria, China and India.
“While we are busy tackling the matter of the three countries, we shall this financial year increase two and a half times the number of people who work for Home Affairs to process visas in both China and India. We shall double the number of people who process visas to our country in Nigeria,” he said.
Furthermore, the office is making efforts towards an e-visa regime. This way, tourists can apply for their visas online at the comfort of their homes. “It will be an online application with a risk-based adjudication and issuance of your visa electronically as opposed to a hard copy. On receiving the electronic message by email, you just continue straight to your airport and head on to South Africa” he said.
It is the hope of the South African government that this new visa policy will open up opportunities for tourism, consequently create jobs and improve the country’s GDP. This e-visa is expected to commence in November 2019.