Travel within Africa to be visa free from 2018
Posted on July 15, 2016
Africans have the strictest visa regulations in the world. The Africa Visa Openness Index Report released by the AfDB (African Development Bank) states that African countries citizens need visas to visit 55% of countries within the continent.
All that would change if a common visa policy is put in place as per the AU (African Union) 2063 Agenda, an important document which draws a broad roadmap for African development. This, in turn, could change the way Africa’s regional amalgamation, intra-regional commerce and economic development.
But visa-free travel plan of the AU presents the continent both challenges and advantages for the continent’s economy and security. The experts, however, aver that the gains will overshadow the threats. The advantages accrued from the AU common visa policy would be elimination of trade barriers, growth of tourism and investment options and creation of employment.
Comprised within the AU’s 2063 Agenda are plans for a common visa plan which has three primary constituents. They are visa-on-arrival for all the citizens of Africa, compulsory issue of visa valid up to 30 days for African nationals visiting any country within the continent by 2018 and the ultimate objective of having a single African passport by 2020. But there are issues to be addressed before these can be achieved. The Huffington Post quotes AfDB Vice President and Chief Economist, Professor Mthuli Ncube, as stating during the AfDB Annual Meeting in 2013 that stringent visa regulations within Africa would mean missed economic advantages for trade within the continent and for the local services, which bring economy, such as education, across-the-border medical services or tourism.
If it becomes a reality, it would encourage tourism, which would bring with it manifold benefits by encouraging growth of markets, hitherto untapped.