The African Development Bank (AfDB) has moved ahead on finalizing the first Africa Visa Openness Index. The Index ranks African countries on the level of openness/restrictiveness of their visa regimes. Its aim is to drive visa policy reforms across Africa, simplify visa application procedures and encourage positive reciprocity.
Facilitating the freer movement of people is anchored in the African Union’s Agenda 2063. The AU’s vision is matched by a call to action to introduce an African Passport and abolish visa requirements for all African citizens in all African countries by 2018. Now, the recent Valletta Summit of the European Union and a call from African leaders has renewed momentum to support migration initiatives across the continent.
“Promoting freer movement of people lies at the heart of Agenda 2063,” says Moono Mupotola, Director of NEPAD, Regional Integration and Trade at the African Development Bank. “We are working with African leaders to deepen regional integration, strengthen connectivity and drive talent mobility. The Visa Openness Index aims to inspire and inform policy-makers across Africa to build on the benefits of greater visa openness for countries, regions and for the continent.”
To showcase the top performers, the Bank is producing a short documentary on the results and lessons learned of visa openness in Rwanda as a landlocked country and in Mauritius as an island state. A Bank team led by Senior Trade Expert Jean-Guy Afrika and supported by AfDB field offices recently visited both countries to conduct targeted interviews of high-level public and private sector officials. Both Rwanda and Mauritius have seen economic gains in financial services, investment and tourism as a result of their open visa policy regimes. Solutions that have been put in place to help Africans travel more freely to date include electronic visas, regional bloc visas and visa-on-arrival schemes.
The Africa Visa Openness Index and documentary will be launched at the African Union Summit in January 2016.