In a remarkable move to foster continental integration and market unification, Rwanda has announced a visa-free travel policy for all AU citizens entering the country.
The announcement was made on Thursday, November 2, during the 23rd World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) global summit in Kigali. President Paul Kagame used the stage to announce a visa free travel policy for all Africans
Kagame, while announcing emphasized the paramount importance of Africa standing united as a singular tourism destination.
“Any African can get on a plane to Rwanda whenever they wish, and they will not pay a thing to enter our country,” Kagame stated.
Statistics from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa reveal that approximately 60% of tourists visiting Africa are non-Africans, shedding light on the untapped potential of Africa’s own diverse market pool.
According to President Kagame, Africans are the future of global tourism and will help the industry to grow in the decades to come
“Africans are the future of global tourism as our middle class continues to grow at a fast pace in the decade to come,”
This move will make Rwanda the fourth African country, following Gambia, Benin, and Seychelles, to put an end to travel restrictions for Africans.
Also Read: DRC Waives Visa Requirements for Kenyans
Kenya’s President, William Ruto has also indicated possibility of a similar pathway by year-end of this year.
Ruto said that Africans intending to travel to Kenya in 2024 will no longer need visas.
He announced while making a keynote address at the Three Basins Climate Change Conference in Brazzaville, Congo.
“By the end of this year, no African will need a visa to enter Kenya. The time has come to understand the importance of doing trade between us,” Ruto stated.
The African Union (AU) launched the African Passport in 2016. The intention of passports was to create seamless continental mobility, much like the European Union model.
However, the current holders of passports are restricted to diplomats and AU officials.
The AU also initiated the African Continental Free Trade Area. These was aimed at creating a single market for Africa’s vast population. These would have boosted economic development, estimated to be worth $3.4 trillion.
Importance of Removing Visa Requirements to a Country
Foremost, visa-free travel between all African nations would promote greater economic growth and development.
Some visa requirements have been significant obstacles to cross-border travel and investment. They have derailed trade and investment between countries.
Removing these barriers would make it easier for businesses to operate across borders. It will also promote greater competition, and help to create more jobs and economic opportunities across the continent.
Moreover, visa-free travel would also promote greater cultural exchange and understanding between African nations.
Waiving visa will make it easier for people to travel freely across borders. It will also promote greater understanding and appreciation of the rich diversity of African cultures, languages, and traditions.
In addition to these, visa-free travel would also help to foster greater political unity and cooperation across the continent.