For many decades, African countries have enforced stringent visa requirements, making it challenging for Africans to travel within their continent. This has been a significant obstacle to the free movement of people and goods, which is vital for economic growth and development. In contrast, European countries have allowed visa-free travel between them for many years, facilitating free movement of people and goods.
However, there has been a positive change in Africa recently. Several African leaders have taken the initiative to promote visa-free travel within the continent. Rwanda, Gambia, Benin, Seychelles, and Kenya are among the African countries that have waived visas for African nationals.
These initiatives have been widely praised as they are expected to boost economic growth and promote unity within the continent. The African Union has launched the African Passport, which enables passport holders to travel visa-free to member countries. Additionally, Aiming to establish a unified market, the African Continental Free Trade Area targets the population of 1.3 billion people inhabiting the continent.
Recently, Rwanda announced that it would allow Africans to travel to the country without visas. This move follows other African countries that have made similar moves to promote free trade and movement of people to match Europe’s Schengen zone. President Paul Kagame announced the news in Kigali during the 23rd Global Summit of the World Travel and Tourism Council.
He stated that Africa could become a “unified tourism destination” and that approximately 60% of its tourists still come from outside the continent, according to data from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. Kagame explained that any African could fly to Rwanda at any time and would not be charged an entry fee. Kagame also spoke about the future of global tourism, saying that Africans are key players as the middle class grows rapidly.
Rwanda will become the fourth African country to remove travel restrictions for Africans once the plan is executed. Countries such as Gambia, Benin, and Seychelles have already waived visas for African nationals. In addition, President William Ruto of Kenya has announced plans to allow visa-free travel to his country for all Africans by December 31, calling visa restrictions a hindrance to business and economic growth.