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Rwanda ranks 6th in visa openness in Africa Rwanda ranks 6th in visa openness in Africa

Rwanda progressed the most, after Tanzania, in regional countries that opened to visitors from other African countries as well as African Union initiatives in the last five years. This is according to authors of the latest Africa Visa Openness report 2021.

Rwanda scored 6th in this year's rankings and top performers despite the lockdowns necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the breakdown, the top 10 countries' average score on the Africa Visa Openness Index rose to 0.904 from 0.902 in 2020.

Countries like Benin, Gambia and Seychelles continued to offer visa-free access to all Africans.

"The Covid-19 crisis has made one thing very certain: Africa needs to be more self-sufficient. To get there, we need to boost intra-African trade, and that means fewer visa restrictions," said Monique Nsanzabaganwa, Deputy Chairperson of the Africa Union Commission, Nonetheless, visa openness in Africa as a whole dropped slightly over the year.

25 percent of African countries welcome some or all African visitors, visa-free, 24 percent of African countries allow some or all African visitors to obtain a visa on arrival. fifty-one per cent of African countries require African visitors to obtain a visa before they arrive.

In 2021, 24 African countries--44 per cent of the continent-- offered an eVisa to Africans, up from 9 African countries--17 per cent of the continent--in 2016.

"The evidence is clear: the countries that make it simpler for Africa's business people, tourists, students, and workers to visit their territories, are the countries that stand to attract more investment and talent. They are the countries whose economies will recover quickly," said Khaled Sherif, the African Development Bank's Vice-President for Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery.

The 2021 Visa Openness Index also makes a compelling case for streamlining the visa process for young Africans. "All young people need is the freedom to move around the continent and support as they develop into Africa's entrepreneurs and business leaders," it stated.

The Index shows that 36 countries have improved or maintained their Visa Openness Index score since 2016.

Over 80 per cent of the countries that have made gains in openness are low-income or lower-middle-income countries. Also important is moving to implement the Single African Air Transport Market12 (SAATM) which will support the African aviation industry's recovery from the downturn caused by the pandemic.

So far, 34 countries accounting for 75 per cent of Africa's passenger traffic have signed up to the SAATM. Of these, 10 countries are ready to implement the SAATM fully. Two African airlines--Ethiopian Airlines and RwandAir--are piloting the IATA Travel Pass for travelers to store and manage certifications for Covid-19 tests or vaccines.

Source: allAfrica.com