Rwanda Unveils Visa-Free Access for Africans, Spearheading Open Borders Across the Continent for Free Movement of People

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In a significant move towards enhancing intra-African connectivity, Rwanda declared on Thursday that it would open its doors visa-free to all Africans. This progressive step aligns with a broader trend on the continent, with several nations embracing measures to facilitate the free movement of people and foster increased trade, reminiscent of Europe’s Schengen zone.

President Paul Kagame conveyed this pivotal announcement in Kigali, emphasizing the potential of Africa as a consolidated tourism destination. Notably, the continent currently relies on 60% of its tourists from outside Africa, as indicated by data from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

“Any African can board a plane to Rwanda at their convenience, without incurring any entry fees into our country,” stated President Kagame during the 23rd Global Summit of the World Travel and Tourism Council. Once this policy is enacted, Rwanda will join the ranks of Gambia, Benin, and Seychelles as the fourth African country to eliminate travel restrictions for fellow Africans.

Kenya’s President William Ruto echoed this sentiment on Monday, revealing plans to institute visa-free travel for all Africans to Kenya by December 31. Ruto emphasized the detrimental impact of visa restrictions on intra-African travel, stating, “When people cannot travel, business people and entrepreneurs face hindrances, resulting in collective losses.”

The African Union (AU) introduced the African passport in 2016 with the goal of mirroring the European Union model in unlocking the continent’s potential. However, to date, only diplomats and AU officials have been issued this travel document. The AU’s vision for the African Passport and free movement of people is aimed at eliminating barriers to travel, work, and residence within the continent.

Furthermore, the AU launched the African Continental Free Trade Area, a comprehensive free trade zone estimated to be valued at $3.4 trillion. This ambitious initiative seeks to establish a unified market for the continent’s 1.3 billion people, fostering economic development on a continental scale.

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Article – ATB Team

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