Visa openness facilitates free movement of people in Africa
Seven West African countries — Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Mauritania, Senegal and Togo, are among the 20 most visa-open countries in Africa. Togo is the best-ranked West African country (position 3) on the 2016 Africa Visa Openness Index, produced by the African Development Bank. Ghana and Senegal have made the most progress in opening up their borders for other African travellers, and Benin recently announced a decision to remove visas on arrival for all African passport or national identity card holders visiting the country for a period up to 30 days. Visa openness facilitates trade and investments, fills skills gaps in the labour market, creates jobs and fosters tourism. Its implementation does not require any major investments. At the level of Africa’s regional economic communities, ECOWAS recorded the highest score (0.8) on the 2016 Africa Regional Integration Index. West Africa encourages intra-regional mobility via the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, the Right of Residence and Establishment (1979) and thus commits to 100% reciprocal open visa policies within the ECOWAS area. Central Africa remains overall the most closed region. Despite the many challenges, promoting more visa-free regional blocs not only facilitates intra-regional mobility, but also supports regional integration. Overall, South-South migration is rising faster than South-North migration. The African Union further encourages intra-regional mobility through its continent-wide campaign aimed at achieving the free movement of people and open visas across Africa. As a part of its Agenda 2063, the African Union urges the creation of an African passport and aims to end visa requirements for all African citizens by 2018.