The Pan African Travel Association’s TeamAfrica will finally be opening up its membership roll to accommodate more members, as it launches it’s flagship project – the ’21 Wonders of Africa’ on the 27th September, which is globally recognized as World Tourism Day.
Team Leader Ukechi Uko had earlier explained to the foundation members that membership had been kept closed since March this year because the legal registration processes were not complete. He told the members that finally the legal registration and the Trademark processes have completed, so The TeamAfrica is now a properly registered organization.
New members can now join TeamAfrica on recommendation of any registered member and approved by the founders or through the website. New members can join from all over Africa and the Diaspora once the person or organization can provide evidence of interest and involvement in the promotion of Africa as a destination.
Earlier in March, the long awaited guidelines for membership of the new Pan African Travel Association TeamAfrica were released. TeamAfrica is open to anyone who meets the criteria outlined in the guidelines. Team Leader Mr. Ikechi Uko also said that the 21 Wonders of Africa, which is the flagship project of the group, will be launched immediately after registering the first wave of new members. He explained that the delay in the takeoff of the project was prompted by legal issues which needed to be sorted out before takeoff. While waiting for the registration process, the association had been busy articulating positions on Pan African issues, including a widely-used press release on the African Passport.
The Pan African Travel Association’s TheTeamafrica had commended the efforts of the AU leadership to bring about seamless travels within Africa for Africans. The AU leaders launched a new African Passport at its annual General Assembly in Kigali for Diplomats as a way of bringing to the fore the issue of free and easy movement within the continent.
For members of TeamAfrica, who discussed the issue exhaustively, it was agreed that the launch of the AU document is noteworthy but symbolic as it has no real value as of now. They pointed out the difficulty of implementing the Yamoussoukro Decision to open African skies for aviation which has not been implemented since 1999. According to the AU chairperson Mrs. Dlamina Zulu this delay in implementing an AU decision since 2003 has cost Africa 40% market share in aviation on the continent. Therefore, the implementation of the African Passport may face similar difficulties and delay beyond the envisaged implementation date.
TTA argues that immediate implementation of Visa on Arrival for all Africans is easier to implement and adopt. Ghana recently joined Rwanda and Seychelles in implementing VOA for all Africans and it has taken off successfully, and Nigeria announced it will start with VOA in 2017. In fact, the Seychelles do not require any visa, which means entry is free for visitors meeting some basic conditions like return tickets, a confirmed hotel booking for the duration of the stay and sufficient funds. Visitors from some parts of Africa also require a Yellow Fever inoculation certificate.
The Team recommends this route as a faster way of integrating Africa, while discussions on the modality of how implementation of the AU Passport is being worked out between nations.
The ECOWAS region was the first to launch free movement protocol among the 15 countries with little or no negative impact despite the huge population within the region. Recently regional blocs in the Eastern and Southern Africa have all implemented free movement protocol for regional citizens with no negative fallout. Some regions have even implemented joint tourist visa for the regions like the EAC did for 3 countries in East Africa – Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya.
The next linkage may be a free movement protocol between the regions. ECOWAS and the EAC group could sign an MOU and bring this about long before the targeted date of 2018 for AU Passport launch for citizens.
Visa fees is another issue of interest in Africa. As Uganda dropped visa fees from $100 to $50, which is commendable, some Africans still pay close to $200 for visas within Africa and TTA believes that the AU should assist members to establish a uniform and affordable fee for visas for African travelers.