Survey: Kenya among most open countries to African visitors

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (PHOTO: FILE)

Kenya has been ranked among countries with the most open borders in Africa, in a report that highlights the country’s standing as a regional trade and aviation hub.

According to the Visa Africa Openness Index 2020, Kenya is ranked 11th in Africa in terms of removing barriers to entry to citizens from other African countries.

The report indicates that Kenya allows citizens from 18 African countries to visit the country without a visa, while those from 33 others can get a visa on arrival. Only citizens from Libya and Somalia are required to obtain a visa before travelling to Kenya.

“In 2020 progress was made on visa opened across Africa’s regional economic communities with their average score rising to 0.48 in 2020, up from 0.47 in 2019,” said the report in part.

“In line with previous Index findings, 80 per cent of the top 20 most visa-open countries on the Index continue to be in East or West Africa, with the remainder in Southern Africa or North Africa.”

Seychelles, Benin, and The Gambia emerged the most visa open countries on the continent with all three countries waiving visa requirements for citizens from all African countries.

Countries were also ranked in terms of their ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) as well as whether they were a member of the Single African Air Transport Market and Protocol on Free Movement of Persons. Kenya is a signatory to all the mentioned initiatives championed by the African Union.

“The Index’s findings reinforce the benefits of prioritising visa openness solutions in large and small economies, with the biggest gains accruing to business, investment, innovation, and tourism,” said Dr. Khaled F. Sherif, Vice President in charge of regional development at the African Development Bank, (AfDB).

“Further facilitating the free movement of people, goods, and services, becomes even more important with the start of trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on 1 January 2021,” said Sherif.

This year’s data on visa openness was collected in July and August, at the height of the global coronavirus pandemic when countries across the world had erected travel bans to and from most countries.

According to the report, 26 per cent of Africans do not need a visa to travel to 26 per cent of other African countries. In 24 countries (44 per cent of the continent), citizens flying in from other countries can get eVisas. Almost half of the continent still requires citizens from other African countries to obtain a visa before arrival, singling the work that remains to remove all barriers to travel.

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