Chairperson of the African Union Commission Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has welcomed Ghana’s decision to introduce a visa-on-arrival policy for citizens of African Union member-states.
Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama, announced the decision in his State of the Nation address to the Ghanaian Parliament recently.
“With effect from July this year, we will be allowing citizens of AU Member States to enter — our country and obtain visas on arrival with the option to stay for up to thirty days and experience what our country has to offer. This measure, with time, should stimulate air travel, trade, investment and tourism”, President Mahama said in his address, highlighting the importance of facilitating the mobility of people to unlock Africa’s economic potential.
The decision is a result of a resolution adopted at the African Union Executive Council meeting held earlier this year in Addis Ababa, which stipulated that AU Member States review their internal and external security realities in an attempt to implement mechanisms allowing for the issuing of visas on arrival for citizens of Member States, with the possibility of a 30-day stay.
The AU Commission Chairperson expressed her great pleasure in Ghana taking immediate concrete steps to implement this decision of the Executive Council. She also noted that Ghana is reaffirming its Pan-Africanism and upholding its place in the area of the African continental integration, which is a key tenet towards the realisation of Agenda 2063 — The Africa We Want.
“After Ghana, I am convinced that many other African countries will follow suit, in the interest of achieving an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa”, Dr Dlamini-Zuma said.
In another development, Dr Dlamini-Zuma congratulated Ethiopia and Rwanda on the recently reached open skies agreement.
The open-skies agreement would allow the national airlines of both countries to operate freely, with no limitations in the airspace of the other.
The airspace agreement, reached recently under the Fifth Freedom Rights Act and signed between the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority and the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority, allows aircrafts from either country to carry passengers to the other, and to a third country with no limits or tariffs.
The initiative is likely to boost operations for both countries and thus yielding major gains on revenue. “This a critical step towards the full implementation of the Yamoussoukro Declaration, geared toward improved regional and economic integration.
I congratulate Ethiopia and Rwanda for taking the leadership”, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma opined, hoping many other champions will follow.
Meanwhile, Ghanaian President, John Dramani Mahama has announced that the Ghana will begin to offer visas on arrival to citizens of all 54 African Union (AU) member states stating from July.
Mahama announced this at the country’s 59th year independence celebration.
Ghana’s new visa policy is big news in Africa where, according to the African Development Bank, only 25% of the countries offer visas on arrival to nationals of other African nations. Put another way, it is easier for North Americans to travel within the continent than it is for Africans.
Only the Seychelles is known to have an open access visa policy applicable to citizens of all AU member states. (Ghana currently offers visa free entry for citizens of 15 countries within the Economic Community of West African States.)
As part of his independence day speech, Mahama also advocated more unity across the continent by urging his countrymen to learn French, the official language of more than half of the countries in Africa. English is the official language of Ghana, but it is bordered by francophone countries like Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, and Togo.
Opening its doors to other African nations could be crucial for Ghana. The travel and tourism industry accounts for 5.9% of its GDP. Mahama did not say whether the new policy would include business visas, but at a time when foreign direct investment on the continent is falling, the country could benefit from opening its doors.