Africans can’t afford to be tourists in their own continent

7th May 2019 BY Ivis Ngwenya

Don’t you find it weird that Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote has said he needs 38 visas to travel within the continent on his Nigerian passport yet us that have European passports can waltz into most Africans countries visa-free?????? But most importantly don’t you find it weird that our own people cannot even afford to be tourists in their own countries let alone the continent. They don’t see Africa the way that we see it, they don’t see how amazing it really is and how much beauty their countries possess.

African nations were supposed to scrap visa requirements for all African citizens by 2018 but here we are in 2019 and it’s still one of the huge restrictions that stop Africans from travelling. To date, Seychelles and Mauritius are two of the few nations where visa-free travel is open to all Africans – as well as to citizens of every nation – as it always has been. It’s so sad to me that most Africans will die only having ever known their own countries, but even then not to its full extent. The things that we Westerners do when we tour Africa, such as Safari trips, staying in hotels located in the jungle and extreme activities such as zip lining – most Africans cannot afford to do. How weird is it that city breaks in Europe are so cheap, even cheaper than a train to London yet city breaks in Africa are a completely different story. Africans make up more than 12% of the world’s population but less than 3% of the world’s passengers. None of this makes sense!!!

Why do we need a #VisaFreeAfrica?

According to the World Bank, intra-African trade is more expensive than trade in any other region. According to the report, one African supermarket chain spends $20,000 every week to get import permits for just one country. So how can Africa progress when there are so many restrictions?

The benefits of lifting restrictions

The Schengen visa is a good example of the advantages of increased mobility – combined with good air, rail and road connectivity it has made Europe the biggest destination for tourists in the world. In 2014, almost 1.7 people living in Europe worked in another Schengen country, and about 3.5 million people crossed internal Schengen-area borders each day. Around 24 million business trips and 57 million cross-border goods movements were also recorded in the Schengen area that year.

Bilateral net trade between members of the Schengen area increased by 0.09% every year.

In Africa, Seychelles, one of the few completely visa-free countries. After adopting the policy, Seychelles saw an average 7% increase per year in international tourism into the country between 2009 and 2014. When Rwanda abolished work permits for East African citizens, the country’s trade with Kenya and Uganda increased by at least 50%.

Africa integration – a work in progress

While a Visa Free Africa may pose some security concerns, no empirical evidence exists to support this. The pros definitely outweigh the cons with increased tourism, job creation and overall economic growth.

Leaders like President Paul Kagame and organizations such as the African Development Bank have extended their full support. As a private company doing business in Africa, NAS is doing its part by exclusively partnering with the Kigali Shapers to support #VisaFreeAfrica, a global campaign to facilitate mobility in Africa.

#VisaFreeAfrica We need it sooner rather than later!