Rwanda has recently announced that it will allow Africans to travel visa-free to the country, joining other African nations in adopting this measure aimed at promoting the free movement of people and boosting trade. This move is aimed at creating a tourism destination that can compete with Europe’s Schengen zone. The President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, made the announcement during the 23rd Global Summit of the World Travel and Tourism Council held in Kigali. He said that Africa is still heavily reliant on tourists from outside the continent and that it has the potential to become a unified tourism destination. Kagame emphasized that any African can visit Rwanda without paying visa fees.
“We should not lose sight of our own continental market,” he said. “Africans are the future of global tourism as our middle class continues to grow at a fast pace in the decades to come.”
Once implemented, Rwanda will become the fourth African country to remove travel restrictions for Africans. Other countries that have waived visas to African nationals are Gambia, Benin, and Seychelles.
Kenya’s President William Ruto announced Monday plans to allow all Africans to travel to the East African nation visa-free by December 31.
“Visa restrictions amongst ourselves are working against us. When people cannot travel, business people cannot travel, entrepreneurs cannot travel we all become net losers” said Ruto at an international summit in Congo Brazzaville.
The African Union launched an African passport in 2016, with the aim of promoting the free movement of people and enhancing the continent’s economic development. The passport was expected to rival the European Union model in unleashing the potential of the continent. However, as of now, only diplomats and AU officials have been issued the travel document. On its website, the AU states that the African Passport and free movement of people are aimed at removing restrictions on Africans’ ability to travel, work and live within their own continent. Additionally, the AU launched the African Continental Free Trade Area, which is estimated to be worth $3.4 trillion. This continent-wide free trade area is intended to create a single unified market for the continent’s 1.3 billion people, thus boosting economic development.