Ghana among top progressive African countries in visa openness

Ghana is among the top 20 countries in Africa to improve visa openness in the last six years, according to the results of the 2022 Africa Visa Openness Index published by the African Union Commission (AUC) and African Development Bank (AfDB).

With a score of 0.883, Ghana ranks fourth, and is one of the six countries in West Africa that made the most progress with visa openness in the last six years. The other countries in the region are: Benin, Nigeria, The Gambia, Senegal and Sierra Leone

According to the Index published by the AUC and AfDB, the largest visa openness improvements over 2016–2022 were recorded by West African countries, four of which are among the continent’s top five (Benin, Ghana, Nigeria, and The Gambia) and six of which are among the continent’s top 10 (adding Senegal and Sierra Leone).

A sizeable number of Southern African countries have also improved significantly: Angola, Malawi, Namibia, São Tomé and Principe, and Zimbabwe. In North Africa, Tunisia is among the countries having most improved, it added.

The Africa Visa Openness Index (AVOI) measures the extent to which African countries are open to visitors from other African countries. The index analyzes each country’s visa requirements to show which countries on the continent facilitate travel to their territory.

Jean-Guy Afrika, the Acting Director, Regional Integration Coordination Office of the AfDB commenting said: “The Index has tracked the evolution of visa regimes on the African continent from before the pandemic to today. As the 2022 report shows, African countries are dismantling many of the measures imposed during the pandemic. Indeed, on the whole, the continent has returned to a level of visa openness last seen just before the pandemic began.

This report unpacks some of these developments. It highlights progress in countries and regions, and suggests where Africa can advance further still. In doing so, it advocates for freedom of movement as essential to integrating the continent and fostering prosperity, security, and inclusive growth,” he added.

Marie-Laure Akin-Olugbade, Acting Vice President, Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery of the AfDB said: “The Africa Visa Openness Index (AVOI) has been tracking visa openness as a measure of the freedom of movement since 2016. This year’s edition—the seventh—shows many African countries having greatly simplified their visa regime over the past year. Visa openness now matches levels last seen at the beginning of the pandemic. Indeed, compared to 2016, when the AVOI was first published, more than 60% of countries have improved their AVOI score. A significant majority of African countries now offer visa-free travel to at least five other African countries, and more countries are investing in technology that allows visitors to obtain an e-visa before they leave home.”

In her remarks, Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, Deputy Chairperson of the AUC said: “Most of the restrictions imposed by countries to curb the spread of the pandemic have now been lifted and countries are embracing new forms of normality. The African Union’s flagship project—the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)—moved forward as well. Most tariff liberalization offers have been exchanged, and negotiations on outstanding rules of origin are nearing completion. In a historic milestone, trading began among a pilot group of countries whose traders had never before enjoyed preferential access to each other’s markets.

Yet barriers still remain. One of the most important is the free movement of persons. Restricting Africans ability to move across borders, right to residence and right to establishment, impedes trade and stifles industrialization,” she said.

The Index, calculates each country’s score range from 0 to 1, where 0 designates countries with the most restrictive visa policies and 1 designates countries with the most welcoming policies.

The higher a country’s index score, the more “visa-open” is the country and the higher it ranks. To calculate each country’s score, the AVOI assesses the country’s visa policy vis-à-vis each of the other 53 countries in the continent and classifies each policy in one of three categories. The Index gives each category a weighting: Visa required before travel 0; Visa on arrival 0.8; No visa required 1.0.

To compute the country’s score, the Index follows four steps: 1. It counts the number of countries that fall in each visa category (visa required before travel, visa on arrival, no visa required). 2. It converts that number into a percentage of all countries in Africa. 3. It weighs each percentage according to the
weighting given to each category. 4. It adds the figures.

By Emmanuel K Dogbevi

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