EDITORIAL: African countries should prioritise easing Visa requirements

Africa has always been accused of having the harshest border-crossing conditions, where strict visa regimes are the order of the day. Many African countries view fellow African nationals with suspicion but are ready to embrace and roll out the red carpet for nationals from the West or other prosperous nations.

Many analysts make the common mistake of dumping the whole of Africa in one heap. “The chorus: “Africa is not a country; it is a continent” seems to have fallen on deaf ears. But luckily, the African Union Commission and the African Development Bank are not letting up.

On the sidelines of the African Investment Summit in South Africa, opening up our borders to encourage trade is top on the agenda. Both organisations have released the latest Visa Openness Index and it is encouraging, not to the extent of what many people wanted, but countries are looking bright.

It is now easier for African nationals to enter into 51 per cent of African countries and they are no longer subjected to the humiliations of long queues in African airports as one is subjected to unnecessary bureaucracy when non-Africans are given preferential treatment with immigration officers nearly bending backwards serving them.

What is even more encouraging is that a quarter of African countries have thrown their doors wide open to fellow Africans and it is everyone’s wish that travel in Africa is made as seamless as possible. That is the only way that regional instruments such as the Free Movement of Persons, Single African Air Transport Market as well as the Continental Free Trade Area will be implemented.

Many are already reaping from the easing of movement of goods and persons and are regretting not having done so before, but they are now playing catchup.