African travelers destined for Ghana will no longer require getting a visa before entering the country after the President announced Sunday, plans to begin offering visas on arrival which will allow one to stay in the Western African country for 30 days.
During Ghana’s 59th independence day celebrations, on March 6, President John Dramani Mahama announced that the country will avail visas on arrival to citizens of all 54 African Union (AU) member states starting July.
This new development comes in three weeks after the African Development Bank (AfDB) released its first Africa Openness Index report which indicates that Africans can get visas on arrival in only 25% of other countries. Further, the report shows that Africans need visas to travel to 55% of other African countries and don’t need a visa to travel to just 20% of other countries on the continent.
In its current state, only 15 countries within Economic Community of West African States enjoy visa-free entry for citizens to Ghana.
Opening its doors to the rest of Africa, Ghana is set to reap positive economic benefits even as Africa pushes to meet the Agenda 2063 which calls to action the creation of an African passport and an end to visa requirements for all African citizens in the continent by 2018.
Free movement in Africa will not only connect the states but also enhance openness and prosperity in the region.
“Opening up a country’s visa regime is a quick-win on development that remains untapped,” said Moono Mupotola, Director of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), Regional Integration and Trade at the African Development Bank.
Accessing Africa among Africans has been ranked poorly with data showing that it is easier for North Americans to travel within the continent than it is for Africans. Currently, only the Seychelles has an open access visa policy in the continent applicable for all AU member states citizens.
At the same event, President Mahama called on Ghanaians to endeavor to study the French language noting that by being bilingual, Ghana’s association with La Francophonie will be enhanced. This he said will create a mutual trade environment and also foster participation in free-trade agreements with its French-speaking neighboring countries like Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, and Togo. The official language of Ghana is English.
According to AfDB President, Akinwumi Adesina: “having an open visa policy does not require large resources or complex systems. Countries can apply positive reciprocity but also open up unilaterally.”
Image Credit: buzzghana.com