Free-Visa Continent: Nigeria’s Visa-On-Arrival
Africa Union is pushing for a Free-Visa Continent to allow Africans to move across the continent without so much restriction. The Union has been so focused on removing barriers that hinder their citizens’ ability to travel, work and live anywhere within their own continent. Well, seems this vision will soon be realized with Nigeria joining the countries that have agreed to offer Visa to Africans visiting their countries upon arrival, Ethiopia and Kenya among them. President Muhammadu Buhari, while attending a Peace Summit in Egypt made a major announcement regarding Nigeria’s foreign affairs policy. Buhari announced that all Africans wishing to visit Nigeria will be given Visas on arrival starting 2020.
The AU in its policies and development implementations programs, says the Free-Visa or Visa on Arrival will boost intra-Africa trade, commerce and tourism, therefore deepening regional market integration by fostering competition among African countries. This will assist in enhancing the Member States’ capacity and prepare to compete more effectively on the global market. Without free movement, however, this goal cannot be easily realized.
The AU also hopes that the Free-Visa will:
- Facilitate labor mobility, intra-Africa knowledge, and skills transfer,
- Promote pan-African identity, social integration, and tourism.
- Improve trans-border infrastructure and shared development.
- Foster a comprehensive approach to border management
- Promote the rule of law, human rights, and public health.
The union aims at transforming Africa’s laws, which for years has generally been very restrictive on the movement of people despite political commitments by the Member States to bring down borders to enhance free movement of all African citizens. According to a report by Africa Development Bank and Africa Union Commission, Africans do not need a visa to travel to 25% of other African countries (up from 22%); can get visas on arrival in 24% of other African countries and need visas to travel to 51% of other African countries (down from 54%).
African Union’s Agenda 2063 identifies the free movement of persons as a key ingredient for achieving other development aspirations. Free-Visa will enable business people and traders to move more easily across the continent, therefore, bringing higher levels of investment, fresh skills and expand the range of goods and services in their own countries and among the member states.