In spite of the policies put in place by the federal government on ease of doing business by granting visa on arrival for business travellers, the country still ranks low on the Africa Visa Openness Index.
The country ranks 26 out of 54 with a score of 0.336, where 1.0 score signifies a high openness in the 2018 report released at the weekend. Presently, visitors from less than 20 countries do not require visas to enter Nigeria, while close to 40 countries need visas to cross the borders of the country and less than five countries can get visa on arrival.
According to the report, facilitating visa access improved in 2018, with slightly more countries offering liberal access to all Africans, while the number of countries offering visas on arrival to all Africans stayed the same. More countries offered eVisas in 2018, an increase of seven countries from 2016.
The report showed that 11 African countries offer liberal access, that is visa-free or visa on arrival, to all Africans up from 10 in 2017, and 13 in 2016. Also, four African countries offer visa on arrival to all Africans, while the number of countries on the continent that offer eVisas rose to 16 up from 13 in 2017 and nine in 2016.
The top 10 and the top 20 most visa-open countries continued to improve their average score in 2018, reflecting a number of countries’ more liberal visa policies. The average score for all African countries is just over half of the average score of the top 10 most visa-open countries, showing that the top performers remain significantly ahead.
The report showed that 18 of the top 20 countries are low-income or lower-middle income economies, while seven out of eight of Africa’s upper-middle income economies have low visa openness scores.
Deputy chairperson of the African Union Commission, commenting on the report said the Visa Openness Index would continue to be an increasingly important policy tool for review and reflection, and help to reinforce the free movement of people across Africa.
“The top performing countries on the Index have accrued big benefits in the tourism industry, and the impact is reaching further still. Accompanied by business reforms and infrastructure investments, openness on visas is being used as part of a virtuous circle to drive growth. What remains is to capitalise on the political will driving Africa’s integration in 2018, and to translate this into tangible benefits for all,” it stated.
On his part, vice-president, Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery, at African Development Bank, Dr. Khaled F. Sherif, said more can be done by governments and policymakers to drive visa openness solutions.
“From offering visas-on-arrival to visa-free regional blocs, there is a wide menu of choices available. The top performers on the Index have already reaped the benefits of liberal visa policies, efficient digital systems and travel document solutions,” he said.
The 2018 Africa Visa Openness Index which is in its third edition is the joint work of the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Union Commission (AUC) and the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Africa. The first two editions in 2016 and 2017 energised the debate on free movement of people among African governments, businesses, investors and travellers.
The Index measures how open African countries are when it comes to visas by looking at what they ask of citizens from other countries in Africa when they travel. It aims to show at a glance which countries are facilitating travel for citizens of other countries and how; whether they allow people to travel to their country without a visa, if travellers can get a visa on arrival in the country, or if visitors need to get a visa before travel. Data on visa openness was collected in June and July 2018.