Ghana ranked fifth and scored 0.875 on the 2020 Africa Visa Openness Index with 24 requiring no visa to enter the country, 28 requiring visas on arrival with travellers from Morocco requiring visa to enter the jurisdiction.
The Index shows Benin, Seychelles and the Gambia topping the ranking in allowing visa-free access for all African travelers into their countries.
Senegal, Ghana, Rwanda, Uganda, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria and Cape Verde complete the first 10 ranking on the index.
Equatorial Guinea and Libya ranked 53rd each, scoring 0.019 with one country each travelling to these countries without a visa and 52 others requiring visas.
The Index published by the African Union Commission (AUC) and African Development Bank (AfDB) shows a record 54 percent of the continent is accessible for African visitors, who no longer need visas to travel or could get one on arrival, up by nine percent since 2016.
In addition, 20 countries moved upwards in rank on the Index, while 50 countries improved or maintained their scores. The report shows a significant rise in e-Visas, offered by 24 countries in Africa.
Notwithstanding the gains made, findings show that African citizens still need visas to travel to 46 per cent of African countries.
Countries in East and West Africa rank highest among the top performers, worthy of emulation by countries in the other regions.
The Index’s findings reinforce the benefits of prioritizing visa openness solutions in large and small economies, with the biggest gains accruing to business, investment, innovation and tourism. Further facilitating the free movement of people, goods and services, becomes even more important with the start of trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on 1 January 2021.
Dr. Khaled F. Sherif, AfDB Vice-President, in-charge of Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery said, “As the evolving fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, countries increasingly need to look beyond domestic frontiers to boost their economic prospects. Visa openness will support Africa to reposition its future growth.”
As close to half of African destinations ease travel restrictions in line with plans to manage the pandemic, travel safety and security remain foremost in policymakers’ and people’s minds as it concerns opening up of borders, and as governments update measures for permitting travel.
Amb. Kwesi Quartey, Deputy Chairperson, African Union Commission, said “As the time has come to safely re-open and revive economies across Africa, it is imperative to institute measures that propel the continent and all its citizens forward. Liberalizing a country’s visa regime is a policy tool that can be quickly adopted to do this.”
This fifth edition of the Index highlights the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which threatens to reverse Africa’s economic gains of recent years, affecting sectors from tourism through to investment.
As travel restrictions ease and safety measures are put in place to contain the pandemic, sustaining progress and momentum on more comfortable continent-wide travel is vital.