Visas: Which African countries are most open to visitors from the continent?

African passport stamps visa 600x300

The African Development Bank has recently released the Africa Visa Openness Report 2016, which looks at visa openness in Africa. The term ‘visa openness’ refers to how easy it is for African travellers to enter 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 one on arrival. A more visa-restrictive country requires visitors to get a visa before they travel. Below are the top and bottom 10 countries when it comes to visa openness:

Top 10 visa-open countries

Index RankCountryIndex ScoreNo visa requiredVisa on arrivalVisa required before departure
4Cape Verde0.85930%70%0%

Bottom 10 visa-open countries

Index RankCountryIndex ScoreNo visa requiredVisa on arrivalVisa required before departure
52Equatorial Guinea0.0000%0%100%
52São Tomé and Príncipe0.0000%0%100%
52Western Sahara0.0000%0%100%

The report reveals that Central and North Africa are the most closed regions when it comes to visa openness.

In the top 20 most visa-open countries, only one is North African, while none are in Central Africa. Seventy five percent of the top 20 countries are in East and West Africa. The majority of the continent’s upper-middle income countries suffer low visa openness scores.

According the report, African countries can benefit from visa openness. For example, Rwanda has introduced less stringent visa policies in hopes to boost tourism, attract investment and become more economically competitive. Since the introduction of these measures, African travellers to Rwanda have increased by 22% – with tourism revenues rising by 4% to US$305m. Rwanda has also seen an increase of conference visitors by 24% in 2014.

The same goes for Mauritius. After promoting open visa policies, the country saw in 2014 that over a quarter of its visitors were African, and in the same year its gross earnings from tourism hit $1.24bn. The country is also ranked number one in Africa in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2016 report and in the Global Competitiveness Index 2015-2016.