On Thursday, Rwanda announced its decision to permit visa-free travel for all Africans to the country, joining a growing number of nations on the continent adopting such measures to enhance the free movement of people and trade, comparable to Europe’s Schengen zone.
President Paul Kagame delivered this proclamation in Kigali, emphasizing Africa’s potential as a unified tourism destination. This move seeks to reduce the continent’s reliance on tourists from outside Africa, currently constituting 60 percent of the total, according to data from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.
Addressing the 23rd Global Summit of the World Travel and Tourism Council, Kagame stated, “Any African can board a plane to Rwanda at their convenience, without incurring any entry fees.” He stressed the importance of recognizing the continental market and asserted that Africans represent the future of global tourism, citing the rapid growth of the middle class in the coming decades.
Rwanda has dropped visa restrictions for all Africans.
Kenya, Rwanda, The Gambia, Benin and Seychelles are the only African countries with visa free or visa on arrival status for all Africans. pic.twitter.com/HEgA24EGZI
— Africa Facts Zone (@AfricaFactsZone) November 3, 2023
Upon implementation, Rwanda will become the fourth African country to eliminate travel restrictions for Africans, following in the footsteps of Gambia, Benin, and Seychelles. Kenyan President William Ruto also unveiled plans on Monday to allow visa-free travel for all Africans to Kenya by December 31, 2023, highlighting the adverse impact of visa restrictions on business and entrepreneurship during an international summit in Congo Brazzaville.
Despite the 2016 launch of the African passport, celebrated as a potential rival to the European Union model in unlocking the continent’s potential, it has thus far been limited to diplomats and African Union officials. The African Union’s objective is to eliminate barriers to travel, work, and residence within the continent, as stated on its website.
Additionally, the African Union introduced the African Continental Free Trade Area, a continent-wide free trade zone estimated to be valued at USD 3.4 trillion, aiming to establish a single unified market for the continent’s 1.3 billion people and foster economic development.