There is no need for Nigeria Senate to invite Rauf Aregbesola, Minister of Interior to come and explain visa on arrival policy. The Nigeria Senate needs to study visa on arrival policy document prepared by the NEPAD, Regional Integration and Trade Department at the African Development Bank. For the first time, African travellers have liberal access to over half the continent, the 2019 Africa Visa Openness Index published by the African Union Commission and African Development Bank, reveals. The report was launched recently on the sidelines of the Africa Investment Forum, which opened in Johannesburg, South Africa. The move was part of efforts to promote tourism and attract foreign direct investment. All stakeholders – embassies, airline operators, partners and governments have been duly informed. Nigeria is a member of NEPAD and African Development Bank and Nigeria. Needs to study their document.
The policy authorizes visas to be granted on arrival at the airport or other entry points subject to satisfaction of specific Immigration requirements. An application letter from the host, stating where the traveller is coming from (If the host is a Company/Organization, it must be on a letterhead). The Visa on Arrival policy will not compromise the country’s security, that Buhari’s government, together with the relevant stakeholders such as the Office of the National Security (ONS), International Police Organization (INTERPOL), and the Immigration Department will profile visitors to make sure that they do not have a questionable character before entering the country.
Despite concerns over the increasing number of foreign nationals in Nigeria, I do not see any reason to scrap the visa-upon-arrival (VUA) privilege granted to Africans, but eyes to tighten the process of its issuance instead. Minister of Interior will work hard to tighten the process instead of scrapping it so that the people will feel safe (amid the influx of foreign visitors). Boko Haram and ISIS did not invade Nigeria because of visa on arrival policy. Calls for the scrapping of the VUA privilege have gained ground out of ignorance in the wake of raising concerns over security issues spawned by the rising number of foreign nationals in Nigeria.
In line with recommendations by the African Development Bank (AfDB) in its Africa Visa Openness report, more countries have began making it a lot easier for other Africans to visit and PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari took great step when he announced a “Visa on Arrival” policy for all Africans travelling to Nigeria as from January 2020.
Nigeria Senate should understand that getting a visa to visit another African country has typically meant being buried in a mountain of paperwork and also expensive visa fees. When procured, the visas are typically only for a short duration. Even then, getting the visa isn’t enough to stave off extra hassles at entry points no thanks to the suspicions of immigration officers who sometimes appear bemused that another African is visiting their country as a tourist.
The Nigeria Senate should understand that in Africa, most regional blocs allow easy entry of citizens across their borders. A very effective measure is in East Africa between Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. Ethiopia in 2018 also announced a visa free and visa on arrival regime for all Africans. Rwanda has a global measure in that regard. Mauritius has, however, topped the African Development Bank’s visa openness index. At the bottom have been Eritrea and Equatorial Guinea.
The Nigeria Senate should understand that visa on arrival policy is part of African Union Commission Agenda 2063 embodies African aspirations and a roadmap to achieve the vision of ‘an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena’. At the top of that agenda is free movement of people across the continent. We believe that free movement of people is possible, which is why Agenda 2063 calls for the abolition of all visa requirements within the period of the Ten Year Implementation Plan and the creation of an African passport. Facilitating freer movement of people through more liberal visa policies is important for a number of reasons. First, visa openness fosters tourism (for leisure or business), facilitates trade and investments, helps fill skills gaps in the labor market, allow young people to study anywhere in the continent and creates jobs. Secondly, unlike infrastructure or industrialization policy, it requires minimal upfront capital investments.
The Nigeria Senate should understand that Africans need visas to travel to 55% of other countries. Africans can get visas on arrival in 25% of other African countries. n Africans don’t need a visa to travel to 20% of other African countries. The Nigeria Senate should understand that Visas on arrival for Africans (such as in the policies of Mauritius and Rwanda) and Visa-free regional blocs (such as the ECOWAS Free movement of persons protocol) n Regional bloc visas (such as the East African Tourist Visa of Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda) n Multi-year visas after assessing applicant (such as with the US or UK 10-year visitors’ visas) will promote positive reciprocity (for citizens of countries that relaxed visa requirements to benefit from similar requirements when visiting other African countries).
In the Africa Visa Openness Report 2016, visa openness means how easy it is for African travellers to visit another country on the continent. A more visa-open country has a liberal or relaxed visa policy for travellers, so that visitors either do not need a visa when they enter or can get a visa on arrival. A more visa-restrictive country requires visitors to get a visa before they travel, in most cases from an Embassy. Visas are used for different reasons, whether as a security measure to control the entry and duration of the stay of people coming into a country or to limit a visitor’s activities, generate revenue or show reciprocity to match the treatment other countries give to their citizens.
Visa openness is about facilitating free movement of people. It is about getting more people mobile, to carry out their business easily, spontaneously, quickly, with minimum cost. That applies whether you are a businessman or woman, a student or researcher, a cross-border trader or entrepreneur, reuniting with friends and family or just travelling to visit the sights. Aspiration 2 of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 includes a goal to be a “continent with seamless borders” where “the free movement of people, capital, goods and services will result in significant increases in trade and investments amongst African countries rising to unprecedented levels, and strengthen Africa’s place in global trade.” Greater visa openness is a vital part of the solution in getting Africa to reach that vision. There is a strong business case for visa openness in Africa, which in turn promotes the free movement of people and is at the foundation of deeper and closer integration of the continent.
The 2019 top performers on visa openness rank among the top countries for foreign direct investment in Africa, and benefit from strong levels of growth, including in tourism. The Index shows that Seychelles and Benin remain the top two countries on visa openness in Africa, with their visa-free policy for all African visitors. Ethiopia moved up a record 32 places on the Index and entered the top 20 most visa-open countries in Africa.
Visas alone are not the whole answer when it comes to a more robust outlook. At the Bank, within the framework of our Regional Integration Policy and Strategy 2014-2023, they are working on supporting African countries to plug their skills gaps, promoting talent mobility and borderless business for African entrepreneurs to move freely to set up shop. This first report of the Africa Visa Openness Index ranks countries on the openness of their visa regimes. The Index aims to be a tool for change, to inform and inspire leaders and policymakers to make visa reforms, simplify visa processes and apply positive reciprocity. The vision for Africa set out in Agenda 2063 and its Call to Action urge the creation of an African passport and an end to visa requirements for all African citizens in Africa by 2018. Time is running out to meet that pledge. At the November 2015 EU-Africa Valletta Summit, African leaders committed to support migration initiatives across the continent to bring back hope.
The great element laid in the fact that discussion on visa on arrival policy had been initiated by African Development Bank and NEPAD. I see the national interest in Buhari’s announcement, which has already been followed up by the Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS; seeks to promote. I see great value this policy will add in the positive sense. I find Buhari’s VoA policy acceptable because apart from being positive to our overall national interest, it was discussed or agreed by the generality of members of African Development Bank and NEPAD.
Inwalomhe Donald writes via email@example.com