Getting people to move freely across Africa represents a powerful boost to economic growth and skills development.
When people can travel with ease for business, tourism or education, everyone benefits, from the country opening up their borders as well as the country whose national is on the move, as seen in the growth in remittances in recent years.
Cross-border movement supports talent mobility and competitiveness. Skills gaps can be plugged and ideas are exchanged leading to entrepreneurship and innovation spreading out beyond borders. The free movement of people is a quick win on development for countries, regions and the continent as a whole. When visa or work permit restrictions are cut, gains in time and resources open up, which supports more competitive businesses and economies.
Early progress towards an increasingly borderless Africa has been made but there are still gaps. The idea has been at the foundation of the continent’s integration journey. Political dialogue is ongoing to make the reality of the experience for Africans travelling across the continent, whether or not they need a visa or can get one on arrival, to match up to these ambitions.
- Ratification (or not) of REC protocol on free movement of persons
- Proportion of REC member countries that are members whose nationals do not require a visa for entry
- Proportion of REC member countries whose nationals are issued with a visa on arrival
Looking ahead, countries and regions need to encourage positive reciprocity, applying the treatment they are receiving from more visa-open countries, look at promoting a visa-on-arrival approach or regional bloc visas. Leaders and policy makers need to work towards the goal of every African being able to scan an African passport at immigration controls continent-wide.
- ECOWAS is the highest performing REC on Free movement of people.
- ECOWAS has the highest REC score here across all of the Dimensions.
- There are a total of 53 high performing countries across the eight RECs on Free movement of people.
- All ECOWAS countries score 0.8, having implemented the Free movement of persons protocol, which enables ECOWAS citizens to travel to all member countries without a visa.
- High performing countries on Free movement of people in a particular REC that are not high performers on regional integration overall in that REC: CEN-SAD: (Guinea, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Liberia). COMESA: (Zimbabwe, Swaziland). EAC: (Rwanda), ECCAS: (Sao Tomé and Principe, Central African Republic), ECOWAS: (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone). IGAD (Eritrea, Ethiopia). SADC (Seychelles, Mauritius, Zimbabwe). UMA (Algeria)
Free Movement of People Scores
Note: All ECOWAS countries score 0.8, having implemented the Free movement of persons protocol, which enables ECOWAS citizens to travel to all member countries without a visa.