Visa Openness 2019 (Africa)

Visa Openness in Africa

Earlier this week, Africa Development Bank released a report on Visa Openness in Africa. Some of the major highlights of the report have been captured in this blog post. According to the 4th Edition of Africa Visa Openness report (2019), African travelers can now travel to a quarter of other African countries without Visas.

Travel within Africa for Africans is marred with a myriad of challenges including but not limited to; hefty visa application and processing fees, heavy documentation, long processing periods misunderstanding of terms like visa on arrival and in some cases corruption. Some of these issues have made travel less alluring to most Africans and are a thorn in the flesh for young Africans who just want to explore Africa and tell better African stories.

Here are some experiences and sentiments by regular African travelers on matters of African travel.

  • Wamathai ‘ The most challenging so far has been South Africa, They ask for so much stuff from Kenyans yet South African get their visas on arrival to Kenya’
  • Yogie on the Move ‘When I was applying for my South African Visa I had to submit documents equivalent to applying for a Schengen Visa. I was also surprised I couldn’t get into Mozambique because visa on arrival did not apply at all then’.
  • Funmi ‘ This Question for challenges faced by Africans traveling in Africa with respect to visa openness has no end.
  • Matt Waffula Corruption. ‘I was asked for money to speed up my visa processing.’
  • Black_Tonystark ‘I have the benefit of switching to my Canadian Passport for the tricky ones plus my South African Passport.
  • Rheenruby ‘I fear traveling to most African countries because of Immigration and visa application process.’
  • Senz_m ‘I am yet to encounter problems.Let’s wait and see! Crossing fingers all goes well in future.’
  • ThewanderlustYogini ‘I haven’t faced any challenges yet,I have a guy who handles my visas. But the British once asked for my electricity bill!
  • Lerato Lefafa Passport validity issue,(Should be at least 6 months beyond departure date.) and visa costs.
  • Diane_mugemanyi There is always that political issue that will make the visa application hard.

Top performers and Reformers between 2016 to 2019.

Visa Openness in Africa

African travelers can now travel to 25% of other African countries without Visas and get Visas on arrival on 26% of other countries.

Visa Openness in Africa

What is Visa Openness?

A VISA is a certificate or stamp in a travel document showing a visitor is allowed to enter the country for a specific length of time and for specific activities.

Visa Openness shows how easy it is for visitors to travel to a country using visas. The Africa Visa Openness Index measures how easy it is for Africans to travel using visas by looking at requirements needed.

It is measured on a scale of 0-1. The metrics are; whether they require visas, offer visas on arrival, or if visitors need to get a visa before travel.

  • Visa Required means one needs to obtain a visa before departure from an embassy, an honorary consulate or another official representative.
  • Visa on Arrival-means a visa has to be obtained on arrival in the country by filling out any visa forms, paying the visa fee if applicable.
  • No Visa-means – no entry authorization required to enter freely into the country. One just needs to fill out entry forms and receiving an entry stamp.

Average Visa Openness Score- Overview

Visa openness in Africa has grown, the push for greater integration between countries by policymakers across the continent. This has made it easier for African businessmen and women, investors, students, and tourists to travel. 47 countries improved or maintained their rank while 13 countries moved upwards in rank on the Index.

Visa Openness in Africa
The Average Visa Openness for Africa, 2019

According to the report, Africans don’t need a Visa to travel to 25% of other African Countries. Only 49% requiring visas and 26% offering Visas on arrival.

Seychelles and Benin top the rankings offering visa-free access to all countries.

59 % of the countries maintained their scores, while 28% improved, and 13% decreased their openness scores.

Kenya ranked number 13 with an openness score of 0.823. Ethiopia moved up a record 32 places to join the top 20 countries at number 18.

Senegal and Ghana also moved to the top 10 countries in the index by 10 and 2 places respectively.

Other best-improved countries include Angola, Benin, Tunisia, Gabon, Saotome, and Principe.

Regional Blocs in Visa Openness

Africa’s regional blocs have served to accelerate Africa’s development. While there has been a steady improvement in visa openness, reciprocity, the ability to move freely across member states with a single visa is being advocated.
SADCs open reciprocity improved to 59%, up from 56% in 2018. Meanwhile, ECOWAS totaled 29% open reciprocity, up from 25% in 2018, and COMESA increased its score to 23% up from 19% in 2018.

Top 20 most Visa-open countries by Region

E-Visas means an electronic visa that can be obtained before departure from an official online platform. The number of countries offering E-Visas increased by 31 %. 21 out of 54 countries offer E-Visas.

We hope that these efforts will make business, cultural and leisure travel within Africa more seamless.

For more information visit

What are your thoughts on the State of The African Visa Openness? Let us know.


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