AfDB advocates African unity, seeks abolishment of intra-Africa visa

The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Akinwumi Adesina has advocated the abolishment of intra-Africa visa.
Addressing some 500 CEOs from 43 African countries and 20 more worldwide, he said, “The ‘Africa rising’ story remains strong. Yes, African economies face economic headwinds from the significant decline in the price of commodities … but African economies remain resilient. While the global economy is projected … to grow at 3% this year, Africa is projected to grow at 4.4% in 2016, and to accelerate … to 5% in 2017.”
Welcoming the President and Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire and the Deputy President of Kenya, Adesina described Heads of Government as “the CEOs of their national corporations”.
He set out a clear vision of the work that governments must do to allow the private sector to reach its maximum potential: ensuring macroeconomic stabilization and fiscal consolidation, broadening the tax base, and deepening domestic capital markets. In addition, he said, governments need to continue to address infrastructure deficits, break down barriers to regional integration, and fast-track key reforms.
He described efforts to deepen financial integration and increase liquidity, citing an AfDB project to link four African stock exchanges, and a joint venture with Bloomberg to facilitate the issuance of sovereign and corporate bonds on African markets. He pointed to a growth in remittances and a rise in sovereign wealth funds in Africa, and said, “With all these resources, Africa can finance its own development, and doing so enables it to decide its own direction and pace of growth.
Adesina revealed that AfDB had launched the first Africa Visa Openness Index, which shows how Africa remains largely closed-off to African travellers.
On average, Africans need visas to travel to 55% of other African countries, can get visas on arrival in only 25% of other countries and don’t need a visa to travel to just 20% of other countries on the continent.
“Having an open visa policy does not require large resources or complex systems. Countries can apply positive reciprocity but also open up unilaterally,” Adesina added.
“And it can be done through a number of smart solutions. As a result of opening up, countries such as Seychelles, Mauritius and Rwanda have seen a big impact on tourism, investment and financial services.
“Yet Africa largely remains closed, with Africans still needing visas to travel to over half of the continent. These headlines go against the continent’s goal to truly become ‘one Africa’.
“And still we know that it is the free movement of people, together with the free movement of goods, services and capital, which is the lifeblood that will sustain Africa’s integration. Visas alone are not the whole answer when it comes to a more robust outlook.
“This first report of the Africa Visa Openness Index ranks countries on the openness of their visa regimes. The Index aims to be a tool for change, to inform and inspire leaders and policymakers to make visa reforms, simplify visa processes and apply positive reciprocity.
“The vision for Africa set out in Agenda 2063 and its Call to Action urge the creation of an African passport and an end to visa requirements for all African citizens in Africa by 2018.”
Nigeria ranked 25 of 52 countries evaluated by the report.

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