South Africa is one of over 54% of African countries whose borders are not open to fellow Africans travelling from another country and therefore require a visa before they can enter.

This is according to the 2017 Africa Visa Openness report released recently, which measures how open African countries are when it comes to visas by looking at what they ask of citizens from other countries in Africa when they travel.

The more liberal or relaxed a country’s visa policy for travelers is, the more visa open they are. Data on visa openness was collected between September 2016 and January 2017.

The data found that Seychelles is the only country that is visa free for all Africans, and therefore ranked highest on the Africa Visa Openness Index. South Africa ranked 34th on the index, up one spot from 35th in 2016, as we provide visa-free entry to 14 countries and require a visa before entry from 40.

While Africa has 55 countries, the report only features 54 countries recognised by the African Union.

Western Sahara is the least visa-open country as it requires a visa from travelers from all 54 countries on the continent.

East Africa is the most visa-open region, while North-Africa is the least open.

Visa-openness is important building a bigger, more integrated market to promote greater stability and attract investment, according to the report.

“African countries are on average becoming more open to each other, with indications that travel within the continent is becoming easier. Africans currently don’t need a visa to travel to more countries than previously and they need visas to travel to fewer countries, ” it states.

Four countries moved into the top 20 most visa-open states on the index and over a third of countries put in place efforts to offer more liberal visa policies. At the same time, more countries announced specific measures to improve their visa regimes going forward.

Twenty-one of 55 African countries have moved upwards in rank on the index since 2015. Forty-seven countries have improved or maintained their visa openness scores.

“When we started this work, only five African countries offered liberal access [visa-free or visa upon arrival entry] to all Africans. We are making
progress, but need to accelerate the pace. For countries who have either visa-free or visa-on-arrival policies you can see the positive impact on the number of visitors to those countries. Over time, you’ll also see it in the trade figures,” said Acha Leke, Director, McKinsey and Company and member of the WEF Global Agenda Council on Africa.

See the full report on African Development Bank (AfDB) Group website.

[Image – CC Brianwilfred]