Benin has ended the year in the top spot of the Africa Visa Openness Index Report 2018, after it opened up its border to all African travellers.
The West African country introduced a visa free policy for all nationals of African countries, joining Seychelles in the category of most visa open nations on the continent.
The index, developed by African Union and the African Development Bank, for three years now, shows that African countries are becoming more open to each other.
Africa is indeed on an upward trajectory towards seamless borders and the free movement of its people.
“Ethiopia’s decision to introduce a visa-on-arrival regime for all African passport holders shows that Africa is indeed on an upward trajectory towards seamless borders and the free movement of its people,’‘ said Amb. Kwesi Quartey, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
The top 20 most visa-open countries continue to improve their average score, reflecting the countries’ more liberal visa policies.
Zimbabwe also broke into the top 20 with the introduction of a visa-on-arrival policy for SADC members.
The report recommended that solutions such as the African passport, visa-free regional blocs, multi-year visas, or visa-on-arrival schemes should continue to be promoted, considering that Africans still require visas to travel to just over half of other African countries.
The African Union this year championed the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area and the Single African Air Transport Market.
The continental body hopes to promote air connectivity and make it faster, less expensive and easier for Africans to travel within Africa.
“Regional integration and trade based upon the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital is at the core of the business of the African Development Bank,” said Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group
The Visa Openness Index assesses the progress African countries have realised in relaxing their visa regimes.
Analysis go into the visa requirements set by each member state of the African Union for other member states seeking to enter their borders.
The report aims to show at a glance which countries are facilitating travel for citizens of other African countries and how; whether they 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.
Overall, when compared to 2017
Africans do not need a visa to travel to 25% of other African countries (up from 22%)
Visas on arrival can be obtained in 24% of other African countries (same as last year)
Africans need visas to travel to 51% of other African countries (down from 54%)
Top 10 visa-open African nations
Seychelles (Visa free for Africans)
Benin (Visa free for Africans)