Africa welcomes the world: Simplified visa regimes drive tourism and trade

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2023 saw a momentous shift in Africa’s visa landscape, with most countries significantly liberalising their entry requirements. Rwanda and Kenya have joined Gambia, Benin, and Seychelles in offering visa-free access to all African travellers, dismantling a historic barrier to regional integration.

Kenya’s new electronic travel authorisation (ETA) system, launched in January 2024, has already received 10,000 applications. “Processing is smooth,” assures Julius Bitok, head of the immigration department, “with approvals based on individual travel schedules.” Kenya’s ambitious goal? More than doubling tourist arrivals – from 2 million to 5 million annually – thanks to the streamlined entry process. This is reported by The Herald, a TV BRICS partner.

The benefits extend far beyond tourism. As Marie-Laure Akin-Olugbade, Vice President of Regional Development, Integration, and Business Delivery at the African Development Bank Group, states, “Simplified visa regimes not only facilitate travel but also foster trade in goods and services, cross-border investment, and broader prosperity.”

This momentum isn’t isolated. Across the continent, regional blocs like the Southern African Development Community and the East African Community are actively harmonising visa policies, further fueling the wave of openness.

Africa is undoubtedly opening its doors wider than ever before, and the world is taking notice. The continent stands poised to reap the rewards of increased connectivity, with tourism, trade, and investment flourishing in the fertile ground of visa-free travel.

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