Nigeria has become the latest African nation to adopt the visa-on-arrival policy for Africans, pushing the continent towards achieving effective regional integration.
The president of the West Africa country, Muhammadu Buhari, made the announcement today but stressed that the policy would take effect from January 2020.
President Buhari confirmed the announcement in a tweet where he underlined Nigeria’s commitment “to supporting the free movement of Africans within Africa.”
Interestingly, the all-important announcement was first made by Somalia’s Foreign Affairs Minister.
Ambassador Ahmed Awad wrote: “I wish to profoundly commend President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria who just announced at the Aswan Forum complete visa exemption for all Africans.
“Starting in January 2020, Africans will be able to arrive in Nigeria without visas. It’s such an exemplary decision. Thanks, your Excellency.”
Critics have used the opportunity to take a slight dig at the president and his administration, questioning why a foreign minister from Somalia would be the one to announce a decision made by the president of Nigeria.
After the tweet by Ambassador Ahmed Awad, President Buhari tweeted from his official Twitter handle, saying:
“Nigeria is committed to supporting the free movement of Africans within Africa. Yesterday at the Aswan Forum in Egypt, I announced that, in January 2020, we would commence issuance of visas at the point of entry into Nigeria, to all persons holding passports of African countries.”
Nigeria, being a part of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, already operates free movement (visa-free entry) of citizens across the 16-member countries of the ECOWAS.
The visa-of-arrival policy means that visitors will not need to fill out paperwork before they arrive into the country. They can make the journey and get visas upon arrival at any of Nigeria’s entry points.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous and has the continent’s biggest economy. It was one of the last countries to sign up to the African Union’s continental free trade area deal.
You will recall that since August this year, Nigeria shut all its land borders, creating a trade squeeze on its immediate neighbours.
Niger, Chad and Benin were the worst affected countries to the blockade which Buhari says will be in place till the reasons for imposing them are eliminated – primarily the incidence of smuggling in and out of the country.
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