Compared to Europeans and North Americans, Africans face higher restrictions traveling within Africa. Travelers within the continent are required to have a visa by at least 80% of the African countries. This was part of the discussions at the African Development Bank Annual Meetings in Marrakech, Morocco, on May 31, 2013 with leaders pushing for less visa restrictions throughout Africa. “The movement of talent and people is at the core of regional integration and is a core pillar of the Bank’s Ten-Year Strategy. Twenty-five percent of all trade in Africa is informal; it is the strongest in West Africa. If there were no visa requirements, informal sector trading would boom.” – Professor Mthuli Ncube, Chief Economist and Vice-President of the African Development Bank.
Rwanda leads in the efforts to lower restrictions with its adoption of biometrix border management. This has allowed transfer of services in engineering and legal services as well as visas on arrival for all African citizens since January 1, 2013. The country has a limited number of embassies abroad, has also introduced e-visas in order to reduce the costs and time constraints of people in obtaining visas. Leonard Rugwabiza, Director, General Planning at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning in Rwanda says, “Since we opened our borders, tourism from African countries has increased by 24%. Trade actually shifted from being oriented to Europe and North America, and is now oriented to neighbouring countries. Trade with neighbouring countries increased by 50% last year, and trade with neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo rose by 73%”.
Abdul Awl, Board Member of Dabashill Group, concluded that: “The private sector is the engine of growth, and we all talk about improving the climate for business sector. Visas are a major barrier, and pose restrictions on doing business.”