A group of Africans has launched an online petition to have visa restrictions in Africa eliminated to ease movement across the continent.
A new Visa Openness Report in Africa in June revealed that majority of African countries are still unwelcoming to Africans.
In that report 51 percent of African countries still demand that Africans secure visas before visiting their territories.
That policy means many Africans struggle to travel freely across borders on the continent. So far only 25 percent of African countries no longer require visas for African citizens.
But 24 percent do grant African citizens visas upon arrival in their countries.
The report put together by the African Union and the African Development Bank ranked Benin and Seychelles top of the Index.
These two countries offer visa-free access to all Africans without conditions.
Benin is only the second country on the continent to offer visa-free access to all African countries and the first Francophone country to do so.
Rwanda has also moved up the rankings to No. 3 after improving access for nine countries on the continent.
But the progress being made in executing a visa free Africa policy doesn’t excite many who continue to experience challenges.
The Kigali Global Shapers, an offshoot of the World Economic Forum launched a petition to push for a Visa Free Africa.
Petition for change
The petition reads in part that “Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world, yet African citizens face some of the most stringent visa restrictions globally.
There are hundreds of stories of missed opportunities – lost job opportunities, a student who couldn’t take up an internship, a doctor that had to give up speaking at a conference, an entrepreneur that lost a promising piece of business when he couldn’t attend a business meeting.”
The petition which has secured 5,000 signatures so far also stated that “Africa’s current population of over a billion is expected to double by 2050.
A Visa Free Africa will help boost tourism revenues, foster new business opportunities, facilitate economic growth and increase employment.”
The African Union is set to roll out its ambitions free trade area in 2020 and making travels across the continent for Africans would be key.
The African experience
Across social media many Africans have shared their stories of how visa restrictions have affected them.
Just met a friend who flew from #Kigali to #Nairobi just to get a Visa to #Malawi. The Visa costs $100, KGL-NBO return ticket $325 plus a full day wasted just to go get a stamp in your passport! Fam, we have a long way to go! #Africa WAKEUP!
— Patience Mutesi Gatera 🇷🇼 (@Peshmutesi) October 18, 2019
It’s ridiculous that Europeans can get visa at Arrival but indigenous African is forced to go on visa hunting thousand miles away.i think We need a United Africa more now than ever where all it’s citizens can travel and trade freely all over with just an identity card.
— CitizenOfHope (@hope_citizen) October 19, 2019
Strange situation happened to me years ago! According to website of Malawi MoFA, citizens from commonwealth countries are granted visas on arrival. Printed the page and headed to Lilongwe, upon arrival immigration officials told me I should have applied for Visa and that the…
— Eric Kariningufu (@ekariningufu) October 19, 2019
Had a similar discussion with a few friends about this yesterday. Our colonizers are still benefiting from their divide and rule. Until we realise that we are a powerful giant if we stand as one then we ain’t going nowhere. #Africanbordersmustfall
— shumbatembo (@CathieMaf) October 19, 2019
You don’t know the way it is very hard to get a Zambian visa on arrival when you are coming from Rwanda. You spend hours on airport being asked a lot of irrelevant questions until you are forced to give them some money plus Visa application fees.
— Birorix (@Africa2Afrika) October 20, 2019