Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), has called for an Africa where visas would no longer be needed to move from country to country.
Speaking at the African CEO forum, Adesina said he expects not just a liberal visa system, but one where tariffs would not be barriers within countries.
“Our leaders have to absolutely bring down the walls that separate us, from East Africa to central Africa, to north Africa, to west Africa,” Adesina said.
“We need a wider, open market. We need to make sure that we are not just talking about liberalising visas so that people can move, but we need to be able to remove all the tariff and non-tariff barriers that separate us.”
Adesina revealed that AfDB had launched the first Africa Visa Openness Index, which shows how Africa remains largely closed-off to African travellers.
On average, Africans need visas to travel to 55% of other African countries, can get visas on arrival in only 25% of other countries and don’t need a visa to travel to just 20% of other countries on the continent.
“Having an open visa policy does not require large resources or complex systems. Countries can apply positive reciprocity but also open up unilaterally,” Adesina added.
“And it can be done through a number of smart solutions. As a result of opening up, countries such as Seychelles, Mauritius and Rwanda have seen a big impact on tourism, investment and financial services.
“Yet Africa largely remains closed, with Africans still needing visas to travel to over half of the continent. These headlines go against the continent’s goal to truly become ‘one Africa’.
“And still we know that it is the free movement of people, together with the free movement of goods, services and capital, which is the lifeblood that will sustain Africa’s integration. Visas alone are not the whole answer when it comes to a more robust outlook.
“This first report of the Africa Visa Openness Index ranks countries on the openness of their visa regimes. The Index aims to be a tool for change, to inform and inspire leaders and policymakers to make visa reforms, simplify visa processes and apply positive reciprocity.
“The vision for Africa set out in Agenda 2063 and its Call to Action urge the creation of an African passport and an end to visa requirements for all African citizens in Africa by 2018.”
Nigeria ranked 25 of 52 countries evaluated by the report.