Benin, Gambia & Seychelles Top African Visa Openness Index

ADDIS ABABA – Benin, Gambia, and Seychelles top the 2022 African Visa Openness Index (AVOI) as more countries improve their openness for African visitors.

The AVOI report that tracks the extent to which African countries are open to visitors from other African states was launched on Sunday.

The three AVO index-topping countries now offer visa-free entry to all African visitors, up from only one in 2016 and 2017.

Five countries moved upwards in rank since 2021 while 51 countries maintained or improved their 2021 visa openness index.

Twenty-four African countries offer e-visa in 2022 as compared to 9 nations in 2016, according to the Report jointly published by the African Union and African Development Bank (AfDB).

West Africa Performs better

West Africa counts the largest share of top-performing countries in 2022, having 8 of the top 20 performers. Seven of them are in the top 10.

East Africa also has eight representatives with one country (Rwanda)  in the top 10. South and North Africa regions have 3 and 1 top performing countries in the top 20, respectively. 

No central African nation ranks among the top 20 on the year 2022 or last year’s AVO Index. 

AfDB’s President Akinwumi Adesina urged African countries to build on the latest improvement in visa openness.

“We need to break down all barriers that impede the free movement of people across the continent, especially that of the workers,” he said. “This is vital for promoting investment.”

Returning to Pre-pandemic Level

In general, the report notes that African countries are making progress in their freedom of travel policies, most of which had been severely curtailed by the Covid-19 crisis.

It has also mentioned three countries that have made the most progress in their visa openness, namely Burundi, Djibouti, and Ethiopia. 

Ethiopia in particular has risen several places on the index to retain its position in the continent’s top 20 performers after removing the temporary measures instituted in 2021, says the report.

“As the 2022 report shows, African countries are dismantling many of the measures imposed during the pandemic. Indeed, on the whole, the continent has returned to a level of visa openness last seen just before the pandemic began,” said Jean-Guy Afrika, AfDB Acting Director in charge of Regional Integration.