Eight East Africa countries have topped 20 most visa-open rating in the region in the 2018 Visa Openness Index.
The African Union (AU) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) which carried out the survey list the countries as Kenya, Uganda, Comoros, Djibouti, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, and Tanzania.
West Africa that has seven countries in the top 20 most visa-open countries among them Benin, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Senegal and Togo while Southern Africa has the least number with four and North Africa one.
The top 20 list is based on progress made on visa openness score between 2016 and 2018 across Africa. Countries in the list have enacted policies allowing Africans greater visa free or visa-on-arrival access.
Kenya is the most improved nation in opening up its borders for free access.
According to the report, Kenya moved six places up thanks to the government’s decision to allow citizens from African States to obtain visa on arrival.
Nationals from 18 African countries do not require visa to enter Kenya, 33 require visa on arrival while only two countries need to obtain visa before arrival.
Meanwhile, Kenyans can travel to 18 African countries visa-free and to 15 African countries with a visa on arrival, which represents one of the highest mobility rates on the continent.
Rwanda was also another big mover rising to position three this year up from number nine in 2017.
There is liberal access to Rwanda, with no visa required for 15 countries and visa on arrival for 38 countries.
The AU has since 2016 when it launched a continental passport as part of a strategy to encourage open borders has been pushing for the adoption of a free travel in Africa to help improve trade and tourism in the continent.
In their joint report, the AU and AfDB stated: “Removing obstacles for Africans to visit, explore and invest in the continent fits into this context .
More countries are putting in place visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to catalyse tourism and attract investment, alongside measures to improve their business environment,” the AU and AfDB said in a joint report.
The liberalised visa regime was set up to promote more open borders across the continent and to boost trade, security and Africa-wide integration.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and Single African Air Transport Market were launched in 2018 and progress has been made on the Free Movement of Persons Protocol.
The continental free trade area was signed by close to 50 countries at the AU Summit in March last year, alongside the Kigali Declaration and the Free Movement Protocol.
It creates one African market of 1.2 billion people, with a GDP of $2.5 trillion, which has the potential to boost intra-African trade by 52 per cent by 2020, benefiting African producers, consumers and traders.
Source: EABW digital