The African Development Bank(ADB) has launched the first Africa Visa Openness Index, which shows that the African continent remains largely closed off for African travellers – a fatal but easily avoided roadblock for business travel on the continent.
Business and overall travel on the African continent is on the rise. As is development in Africa. In 2015 alone, the hotel industry planned new deals, which will increase the accommodation offering on the continent by 30% – that’s over 64 000 new planned hotel rooms in 365 hotels in Africa.
In order for Africans to capitalise on this growth and potential, “Africa’s leaders and policymakers have to move freely in support of Agenda 2063’s call to abolish visa requirements for all Africans by 2018,” Moono Mupotola for Regional Integration and Trade at the African Development Bank says. An alternative to visa for Africans in Africa would be creating an African passport, which will allow Africans to move freely across the continent, or at least parts of it.
“Visa openness promotes talent mobility and business opportunities – it is a vital step forward towards a more integrated Africa. There are huge potential gains to be had for countries and regions across Africa in having more visa-open policies for other Africans, whether it is to help plug skills gaps in the labour market, promote entrepreneurship, diversify the economy, add value to services, or whether it is to attract investment and boost competitiveness.
“Opening up a country’s visa regime is a quick-win on development that remains untapped,” Mupotola says.
South Africa currently sits in the 35th position on the Africa Visa Openness Index, and has been slow to adopt easy visa systems for all travellers. SA’s implementation of new visa regulations for minors saw negative effects on visitor numbers to the country.
Early in 2016, however, significant changes was made visa policies – especially for African travellers.