Travel in Africa is More Accessible in 9 Eastern Africa Countries

International tourist arrivals fell by 72% in January-October 2020, with restrictions on travel, low consumer confidence and a global struggle to contain the COVID-19 virus, all contributing to the worst year for tourism on record.

9 countries in the top 20 most visa-open countries are in East Africa at 45 percent, West Africa 35 percent, Southern Africa 15 percent and North Africa 5 percent

Traveling in Africa is becoming more accessible according to the 2019 Africa Visa Openness Index as more policymakers across the continent push for reforms.

The 2019 Africa Visa Openness Index published by the African Union Commission and African Development Bank was launched on the sidelines of the Africa Investment Forum, which opened in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The fourth edition tied into developments on regional integration across Africa, from the African Continental Free Trade Area entering into force to the signing of the Single African Air Transport Market and the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons.

It showed that 47 countries improved or maintained their visa openness scores in 2019.

African visitors no longer need a visa to travel to a quarter of other African countries, whereas visa-free travel was only possible to a fifth of the continent in 2016. Currently, 21 African countries also offer eVisas to make travel more accessible, up from 16 in 2018, 13 in 2017, and 9 in 2016).

The 2019 top performers on visa openness rank among the top countries for foreign direct investment in Africa and benefit from strong levels of growth, including in tourism.

Seychelles and Benin remain the top two countries on visa openness in Africa, with their visa-free policy for all African visitors. Ethiopia moved up a record 32 places on the Index and entered the top 20 most visa-open countries in Africa.

Top 20 most visa-open countries by region, 2019

Top 20 most visa-open countries in Africa

                    1. Seychelles
                    2. Benin
                    3. Senegal
                    4. Rwanda
                    5. Ghana
                    6. Uganda
                    7. Guinea-Bissau
                    8. Cabo Verde
                    9. Togo
                    10. Mauritania
                    11. Mozambique
                    12. Mauritius
                    13. Kenya
                    14. Comoros
                    15. Madagascar
                    16. Somalia
                    17. Djibouti
                    18. Ethiopia
                    19. Tanzania
                    20. Gambia

The Africa Visa Openness Index measures how open African countries are when it comes to visas by looking at what they ask of citizens from other countries in Africa when they travel.

Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, says, “Our work on the Africa Visa Openness Index continues to monitor how Africa is doing on the free movement of people.

“Progress is being made, but much still needs to be done. To integrate Africa, we should bring down the walls. The free movement of people, and especially labour mobility, are crucial for promoting investments.”

In 2019, only 26% of Africans are able to get visas on arrival in other African countries, up by only 1% compared to 2016.

“It cannot be stressed enough how crucial integration is for the development of the continent and the fulfillment of its people’s aspiration to well-being. I congratulate those member states that have taken measures to ease the procedures for the entry of African nationals into their territories, and urge those that have not yet done so to join this growing momentum,” said Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission.