A welcoming visa environment makes it possible to scale up local ventures, build economies of scale, and develop efficient value chains. Digital technology plays a role: recent developments are streamlining entry processes and making it possible for more students, traders, and residents to travel, exchange knowledge, and build new markets. 

ARII uses three indicators to measure how well countries and regional economic communities cooperate on the freedom of movement:

  • The number of countries that may obtain a visa on arrival indicator counts the number of countries whose citizens may be granted visas on arrival by the other countries in the region. It captures the ease with which people from that country can move around the region for tourism, business, or day-to-day transactions. 
  • The number of countries that require a visa indicator counts the number of countries whose citizens strictly require a visa when travelling to each of the other countries in the region. 
  • The Free Movement of Persons Protocol (Kigali) indicator measures whether a country has ratified the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community Relating to Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment. Once implemented, this protocol will allow African workers, students, researchers, and border residents to move freely between signatory states (ratified = 1; not ratified = 0).  

Headline Findings

Overall performance

There is great disparity in countries’ scores on the Free Movement of People dimension. Many countries score below 0.1, far below the African average of 0.441. This finding reflects the roadblocks that African citizens encounter when they travel, making it harder for them to conduct business, act as tourists, and help integrate the continent in general. Adhesion to the Free Movement of Persons Protocol (Kigali) and greater visa openness would improve scores on this dimension by lowering transaction costs, increasing trade, and making production more efficient.

Top performers

With perfect scores, Comoros, Djibouti, and Somalia share the top position on the free movement of people dimension. Citizens from all 53 African countries can obtain a visa on arrival in these countries, all three of which have adhered to the Free Movement of Persons Protocol (Kigali).

Mauritania and Mozambique follow with very high scores as well. Both countries have signed the protocol.

Bottom performers

Libya, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Burundi, and Algeria are the least integrated countries on the free movement dimension: their scores are close to 0. None of these poorly integrated countries have signed the Free Movement of Persons Protocol (Kigali), and most African citizens need a visa to enter their territory.

Africa

Countries’ Scores and Rankings on the Free Movement of People

Country is a high performer – it scores higher than the average
Country is an average performer – it scores within the average
Country is a low performer – it scores below the average
Countries’ average score

ARII uses a 95 percent confidence interval from the mean to identify countries’ performance as low, average, or high. Under linear conditions, a score below 0.333 is classified as low, a score between 0.334 and 0.667 is classified as average, and a score above 0.668 is classified as high. 

In this graph, a country’s “All Africa” value refers to how well the country scores compared to all other African countries, not just compared to the other members of the regional economic community/ies to which the country belongs.

AMU

Countries’ Scores on the Indicators of the Free Movement of People,
Organised by REC

Free Movement of Persons Protocol (Kigali)
Number of countries that require a visa
Number of countries that may obtain a visa on arrival

COMESA

Countries’ Scores on the Indicators of the Free Movement of People,
Organised by REC

Free Movement of Persons Protocol (Kigali)
Number of countries that require a visa
Number of countries that may obtain a visa on arrival

ECCAS

Countries’ Scores on the Indicators of the Free Movement of People,
Organised by REC

Free Movement of Persons Protocol (Kigali)
Number of countries that require a visa
Number of countries that may obtain a visa on arrival

EAC

Countries’ Scores on the Indicators of the Free Movement of People,
Organised by REC

Free Movement of Persons Protocol (Kigali)
Number of countries that require a visa
Number of countries that may obtain a visa on arrival

ECOWAS

Countries’ Scores on the Indicators of the Free Movement of People,
Organised by REC

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.

Free Movement of Persons Protocol (Kigali)
Number of countries that require a visa
Number of countries that may obtain a visa on arrival

SADC

Countries’ Scores on the Indicators of the Free Movement of People,
Organised by REC

Free Movement of Persons Protocol (Kigali)
Number of countries that require a visa
Number of countries that may obtain a visa on arrival

CEN-SAD

Countries’ Scores on the Indicators of the Free Movement of People,
Organised by REC

Free Movement of Persons Protocol (Kigali)
Number of countries that require a visa
Number of countries that may obtain a visa on arrival

IGAD

Countries’ Scores on the Indicators of the Free Movement of People,
Organised by REC

Free Movement of Persons Protocol (Kigali)
Number of countries that require a visa
Number of countries that may obtain a visa on arrival

ARII’s Free Movement of People dimension and the Visa Openness Index measure different things. While both evaluate the openness of countries’ visa regimes (whether a country’s nationals can travel in the region without a visa or can apply for a visa upon arrival), the ARII also assesses the degree to which African countries have committed to Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community Relating to Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment.

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