A new Africa Visa Openness Index (AVOI) report has shown that African countries are making progress in their freedom of travel policies, most of which had been severely curtailed by the Covid-19 crisis.
The annual publication, prepared by the African Development Bank Group in collaboration with the African Union Commission, is now in its 7th edition and was launched on the sidelines of the 2022 African Economic Conference in Mauritius.
According to the report, Burundi ranks as the second most visa-open country in East Africa, with the country’s visa openness ranking rising by 32 places in the year.
Burundi’s rise, mostly since 2021, is a result of Bujumbura accepting all travelers from Africa into the country either on visa-free travel (all East Africans) or visas on arrival (all other Africans).
Meanwhile, Rwanda is still the highest-ranked country on visa openness, allowing visitors from 18 African countries without visas, while granting visas to all other Africans on arrival.
It is ranked 5th in Africa, behind Benin, Seychelles, Gambia and Ghana.
The report tracks visa policies adopted by African governments on three main criteria: whether entry to citizens from other African countries is visa-free, if a visa on arrival can be obtained, and whether travellers are required to obtain visas ahead of traveling to other African countries.
African Development Bank Group’s Acting Vice President in charge of Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery Marie-Laure Akin-Olugbade, said this year’s report underlines the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in the last two years (2020 and 2021) during which most countries restricted movement, both domestically and for international travel.
African Union Commission Deputy Chairperson, Dr. Monique Nsazabaganwa, said: “This edition links free movement to the development of regional value chains, investments, trade in services and the AfCFTA. There is greater recognition that human mobility is key to Africa’s integration efforts.”
The 2022 edition of the report showcases three countries that have made the most progress in their visa openness, namely Burundi, Djibouti, and Ethiopia. Ethiopia in particular has risen several places on the index to retain her position in the continent’s top 20 performers after removing the temporary measures instituted in 2021.