Free movement of people can be a catalyst for trade, investment, tourism, and economic growth in Africa, the Africa Development Bank has said.
According to the bank, visa openness will play a vital role in realizing the AfDB’s High 5s Africa agenda, which seeks to make Africa more open, prosperous and interconnected.
The bank says East Africa has made important strides in opening up to freer movement, but progress in implementation is mixed across countries in the region.
To achieve set goals, countries that are wary of the risks to the freer movement were told to draw lessons from fellow East African countries that have undertaken reforms to embrace the freer movement and are reaping the benefits.
The AfDB launched two flagship reports to help in the achievement of freer movement. The Africa Visa Openness Report and the Africa Tourism Monitor Report will facilitate data-based dialogue on the benefits of freer movement.
In the Africa Tourism Monitor Report, states are advised to simplify visa regimes through the adoption of online applications, offering visa on arrival, simplifying visa forms or outright removal of the visa requirement for fellow Africans to boost regional integration.
In the AUC’s Agenda 2063, African states are told to create an African passport and to put an end to visa requirements for all the African citizens.
In East Africa, free movement of people is also one of the Four Freedoms enshrined in the EAC Common Market, which has been in force since 2010.
Currently, the region is only ranked second only to ECOWOS on freer movement. Seychelles is the top performer, requiring no visas for all African nationals. Uganda and Rwanda follow in second and third.
Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda though faced with security concerns and economic migration were praised for introducing UNI-VISA arrangement without visas. Through investment in technologies, integrated border control, and identity management systems, the challenges would be solved.