Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma wants Visa on arrival for all Africans
By Friday Nwosu
After the recommendation by TheTeamAfrica (TTA), Pan African Travel Association for the implementation of a visa on arrival for all Africans, it seems the African Union (AU) has taken the advice and has urged all member States to introduce a 30-day visa on arrival policy for all citizens from fellow African countries.
The Pan African Travel Association had earlier commended the Union’s efforts in bringing about seamless travels within Africa for Africans, through the launch of the African passport at its summit in Kigali in July 2016 to encourage free movement for Africans within the continent.
But TeamAfrica had pointed out the challenge faced by the Union in implementing the Yammousokro Decision by member states since 1999 when the decision was agreed upon, noting that the AU passport launched by the union may face similar fate.
TTA argued that immediate implementation of visa on arrival for all Africans is easier to implement and adopt, just like it had been done in Ghana, Rwanda, and Seychelles.
Chairperson of the AU, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma while making her state of the Union address to Journalists in Durban, South Africa, said the visa-on-arrival will further facilitate intra-Africa trade, business and investment among African countries.
She said central to all the programmes of the AU, which ranges from industrialization, education, infrastructure to peace is the critical issue of free movement of people.
According to her, there has been a major push around free movement of people, which is one of the Agenda 2063 flagship project of the union.
She said: “The East African Community citizens enjoy 3 month visa-free stays in Member States for national passport holders and a 6 month visa-free stays for EAC passport holders; COMESA grants 90 day visas-on-arrival for citizens of its FTA Member States; SADC countries are currently granting 90-day visa free stays to its citizens although it is being done through bilateral agreements; and ECOWAS is granting visas-on-arrival to its citizens and 7 members have adopted the ECOWAS passport, which allows citizens to travel without visas. Seychelles, Mozambique, Rwanda, Comoros, Uganda and Madagascar offer either visa-free access or visas-on-arrival to all African citizens, and were followed in 2016 by Ghana, Benin and Namibia.
“Rwanda, as a result of implementing the Africa’s most liberal migration policy has enjoyed a 24% rise in tourism from African countries and a 50% rise in trade with neighbouring countries, including a 73% rise in trade with the DRC. Progress on movement of people in other regions, especially Central and North, and between regions is much more limited.
“In order to facilitate intra-Africa trade, business and investment – both small and large – the AU decision was taken in January 2016 to encourage all Member States to introduce a 30-day visa on arrival policy for all citizens from fellow African countries, to launch the African passport in 2016 and to adopt a comprehensive Protocol on Free movement of People by 2018.
“The African passport was launched at the AU Summit in Kigali in July 2016. A process to convert this into an e-passport has started with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), which will enable us to negotiate with other regions in the world about the recognition of the African passport. Member states were also encouraged to start the process within their national legislation to issue the passport, and the Commission distributed guidelines and the prototype to all Member states in 2017, once the e-passport process is completed.”
Dlamini-Zuma added that a recent study on the potential impact of the extension of the African passports across African nations estimates that it could increase travel in the continent by 24% and revenues from tourism by 20%.