African countries should drop all visa requirements for all Africans by this year. All member states of the African Union (AU) had adopted this under the key point „vision and road map for the next 50 years“ in 2013. A model for this is the European Schengen area – with the Schengen visa foreigners can travel to 26 European countries. The unified passport in Afrika were introduced in 2016.
The African Union had introduced him in order to abolish visa requirements for all 54 states by this year. But until today, the Seychelles are the only country in which all Africans – and also all people from other nations – can travel without a visa. A recent AU report showed that Africans can visit only 22% of all African countries without a visa.
Chairwoman of AU Commission Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said the new passport is another important step towards a strong and united Africa, shaped by its own citizens. The aim is also to promote the economic integration of the continent. The AU wants a borderless continent where all 1.2 billion people can move freely between countries, like in the European Union.
Who needs a visa for what country?
In South Africa, nearly 75% of Africans need a visa – citizens from just 15 African countries can travel to South Africa without a visa. In contrast, people with 28 different European passports can freely enter the country.
In Nigeria over 60% of Africans also need a visa. A small percentage will get a visa on arrival which means a small fee whenn you enter the country, the remaining nationalities are allowed to enter the country without a visa.
In Rwanda and Kenya there is no visa needed in advance. However, all Africans must pay for a visa upon arrival. In Kenya, on the other hand, almost 70% of Africans need a visa on arrival and the rest does not need one. People from South Africa get the visa on arrival in Kenya for free. Conversely, Kenyans must apply for a visa in South Africa, pay a processing fee and wait at least five working days before they can enter.
In 2015, two years after the African Union asked its member states to drop all visa requirements by 2018, South Africa announced even stricter regulations. As tourist numbers declined, the country announced now that they were hoping for more economic recovery with more relaxed travel rules.
Just one in four Member States issues the visa on arrival. In just 13 countries, the African passport is sufficient for stays of less than 90 days, including Uganda and Tanzania. US citizens, on the other hand, can enter 20 African countries without a visa.
Overpriced travel expenses
Another hurdle for Africans to travel within their continent are the flights: there are not many flights from one region to another, and if so, they are very expensive. Kenyan travel blogger Winnie Rioba told BBC that flying from Kenya to Namibia is as expensive as traveling to Thailand. And a flight from Nairobi to Dubai is a lot cheaper than a flight to Morocco. And of course there are the visa costs: She said she paid $90 for the visa in Djibouti, $15 more than for the Schengen visa. Rioba has already visited 17 African countries.
South African travel blogger Katchie Nzama says she spent more money on visas than on transportation costs on her travels across the continent. She is not just talking about the money you pay for the visa, but also the time and money you spend on getting to the embassies, the documents you need, and so on. She has already traveled to 34 African countries, 30 of them in just 12 months!