Rwanda has abolished visa requirements for all African visitors, aligning with the continent’s vision of fostering free movement and trade within the region.

This move follows similar actions by Gambia, Benin, and Seychelles, and Kenya’s President William Ruto’s recent commitment to abolishing visa restrictions for all African nations by year-end.

Visa-free access to Rwanda not only simplifies travel but also positively impacts passport mobility scores for other nations, which are determined by the number of countries a passport holder can visit without a visa.

President Paul Kagame made this announcement during the 23rd Global Summit of the World Travel and Tourism Council in Kigali, marking an important milestone in facilitating intra-continental travel.

President Kagame. Image: courtesy.
President Kagame. Image: courtesy.

President Kagame highlighted the potential of Africa as a cohesive tourism hub.

“Any African can board a plane to Rwanda at their convenience and will not be required to pay an entry fee,” said President Kagame

“We should not lose sight of our own continental market. Africans are the future of global tourism as our middle class continues to grow at a fast pace in the decades to come.”

He further highlighted the importance of recognising Africa as a robust continental market pointing out that Africans are the future of global tourism, with the middle class rapidly expanding in the years to come.

Mr Kagame has been key in pushing for African unity and even played an important role in the creation of the African Continental Free Trade Area, which was launched in Kigali.

Kenya’s President Ruto has also unveiled plans to allow visa-free travel for all Africans visiting his country by December 31, acknowledging the adverse effects of visa restrictions on businesses, entrepreneurship, and regional collaboration.

In 2016, the African Union introduced the African passport with the aim of facilitating travel within the continent. However, to date, only diplomats and AU officials have been issued this travel document.

The African Passport and the broader free movement of people initiative are designed to break down barriers, allowing Africans to travel, work, and reside within their own continent more easily.

gandae@businessdayafrica.org