Africa’s independence era brought rebirth and realization to need to have our diverse nationalities and tribes work as a united front.
In 1963, many of our African leaders including Pan-African Martyr Kwame Nkrumah forged a united front known as the African Union, setting aspirations to a completely developed Africa in a century from their establishment.
One of the aspirations set for 2063 was for Africa to be a continent with seamless borders, and management of cross border resources through dialogue. Furthermore, our then leaders aspired for free movement of Africa’s people, capital, goods and services in hope for significant increases in trade and investment.
While many of our countries may not be vocal or action oriented into realizing these goals, Ghana still believes in the need to boost its own economy through the upliftment of fellow African regions. This is why a new policy on Visa requirements could not have come at a better time
Shortly after Ghana’s independence celebrations, President John Dramani Mahama revealed that as of July, the country will offer visa-on-arrival to citizens of African Union member states.
“With effect from July this year, we will be allowing citizens of AU Member States to enter – our country and obtain visas on arrival with the option to stay for up to thirty days and experience what our country has to offer. This measure, with time, should stimulate air travel, trade, investment and tourism”. He said, further reinstating the importance of facilitating people’s mobility to reveal Africa’s economic potential.
This isn’t a sporadic decision, but a resolution recently adopted by the African Union Executive council meeting held earlier this year in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Moreover, Ghana waived its visa requirements to Rwanda and Mauritius citizens prior to its new continental policy.
While visa-on-arrival will benefit African citizens in less scurrying costs based on administration, it also boosts economic activity in the country. Take Rwanda for example. According to Africa Visa openness report 2016, Rwanda’s 2014 visa-on-arrival policy made significant boost in the tourism sector. With African travelers increasing to 22%, tourism revenues rose to 4% and up to $305 million. The general GDP growth increased to 4% with over 12 000 of Africa’s citizens obtaining work permits at no cost.
Although arguably, you can become wary of the security aspect of visa-on-arrival requirements, more so due to sporadic terrorists attacks that occur globally, however this beams a new approach into handling peace and security in nations. Instead of robust and administrative requirements needed to obtain a visa, information sharing through biometric databases at border controls, and linking IT systems with other countries allows a boost in security knowledge and tracking of national security threats.
With this new policy established in Ghana, their economy is looking at a significant boost, with quietly alleviating other nation’s employment crisis through sharing job opportunities. Hopefully more ready and willing African nations will join the bandwagon.