Traveling through African countries remain a nightmare to most foreign tourists from the United States and Europe.
African countries whose tourism development has been and is still moving at a snail’s pace, have failed to introduce a single visa to foreign visitors touring the continent, a situation which has left African tourism lagging behind.
Rwanda is among the first, and a pioneer African nation, to advocate single-visa policy, looking to make tourism the country’s key economic sector.
Rwandan President, Mr. Paul Kagame, said last week that a single-tourist visa was a priority to Rwanda, while his government has endorsed free visa and passport-free travel between Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya.
Mr. Kagame said during the just-ended Africa Travel Association’s (ATA) 41st World Tourism Conference in Kigali that there is a need to implement the existing agreements on open skies, and to ease visa restrictions in Africa.
“The single-tourist visa and passport-free travel between Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda, is already a reality. So is visa-on-arrival in Rwanda for all African nationals,” read part of his speech.
President Kagame wanted regional and continental cooperation on elimination of the multiple visa, saying its key is in boosting tourism by increasing the numbers of visitors, as well as facilitating trade and investment in different countries of and Africa.
“The single-tourist visa and passport-free travel between Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda, is already a reality. So is visa-on-arrival in Rwanda for all African nationals,” Kagame said.
He said that there is a need to take full advantage of new technology, particularly innovative digital platforms, to attract more visitors as well as offering new experiences and provide better tourist services.
The 5-day long conference that was organized by the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) and the Africa Travel Association (ATA) under the theme “Unlocking Africa’s Tourism Potential” attracted tourism key players from different countries inside and outside Africa.
Commenting on travel hurdles within Africa, President of the Dangote Group, Mr. Aliko Dangote, from Nigeria called on African governments to review their respective visa procedures and tariff regimes so as to enable the continent to attract the required investment into its key sectors and achieve economic integration.
Billionaire businessman, Aliko Dangote, has advised African leaders to give incentives to investors and make intra-Africa travel easy.
He said this while revealing that despite the size of his group and investments on the continent, he needs 38 visas to travel across Africa. Mr. Dangote, the richest African, said adequate steps must be taken to address the issue of easing travel restrictions within Africa in order to have a blossoming economy.
“Our African leaders must give incentives. For example, little things like visa issuance. You go to a country that is looking for investment, that particular country will give you a run-around just to get a visa,” Dangote said.
“You have to know somebody who is big in an African country to call somebody. They are giving you visas as if it is a favor,” he added.
“Somebody like me, despite the size of our group, I need 38 visas to move around Africa each year. Yes, I’ve heard that they are going to do the African passport, but you can see that there is still a little bit of resistance from other African leaders,” Mr. Dangote said.