July 2024

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As Ghana celebrated 59 years of independence, President John Mahama made an important announcement. The country’s visa policy will be reformed. This change will facilitate travel within Africa and help boost Ghana’s economy.

An open policy

President Mahama announced that starting July 2016, all citizens of the 54 nations in the African Union will receive visas upon arrival in Ghana. Previously, the country only allowed open access for the 15 countries in Economic Community of West African 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,” the president said. “This measure, with time, should stimulate air travel, trade, investment and tourism.”  

The travel and tourism industries make up 5.9% of the nation’s GDP, therefore allowing more Africans should have a positive impact on the economy.

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Connecting Africa

AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma expressed approval over Ghana’s plan.

“After Ghana, I am convinced that many other African countries will follow suit, in the interest of achieving an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa,” she said.  

During his independence day speech, Mahama also stressed the importance of communicating and connecting with other African countries. He encouraged Ghanaians to learn French. Though Ghana’s official language is English, it is surrounded by the French-speaking nations Cote d’Ivoire and Togo. And over 50% of African nations have French as their official language. Foreign direct investment in Africa is declining, and this is already affecting several industries. The worldwide demand for oil and other commodities is falling.  If current trends continue, some countries could be facing a recession. Making connections with other African nations is crucial.

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Travelling is still difficult for Africans

Intra-continental travel is difficult in Africa. Most travel policies make it difficult for Africans to enter each other’s countries. According to data from African Development Bank, 55% of states require Africans to have a visa prior to visiting their country, and only 25% offer them upon arrival. A mere 20% of countries allow Africans to enter without a visa. In fact, it is actually easier for citizens of North America to travel to Africa – they only need a visa for 45% of the countries and can get a visa on arrival in 35%. Among the top 20 most open countries, 75% were in East and West Africa. North and Central African countries were found to be much less open. Only one North African country made the list and not a single Central African country made the top 20. The most open state is Seychelles, which allows in all  citizens of African countries.

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SEE ALSO: These 15 African Passports Will Give You Access To More Than 60 Countries…Without A Visa!