Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has revealed that the country will “very soon” follow Rwanda’s example allowing all Africans to travel to the country without visas.
The plan was revealed during a state banquet hosted by Prime Minister Abiy for Rwandan President Paul Kagame who is in Ethiopia on a three-day official visit.
The two leaders held bilateral talks at the National Palace in Addis Ababa, and made a commitment to strengthen relationships in key sectors, which include defense, and air services.
While Prime Minister Abiy did not give specific details of the plan to allow all Africans to travel to Ethiopia without visas, the proposal is a laudable step to open Africa’s borders.
The policy will open up the east African country to African visitors, and it will undoubtedly ease the free movement of African nationals and boost tourism.
As part of the visit, President Kagame also toured Hawassa Industrial Park which has attracted 18 leading global apparel and textile companies.
“President Kagame is a freedom fighter, great gift for the people of Rwanda and for the continent. After fighting for freedom it is difficult to establish institutions, but when you go to Rwanda you can see how this leader has changed the country”. – Prime Minister Abiy
Rwanda visa-on-arrival example
On 1 January this year, Rwanda started implementing a new visa regime where nationals of all countries get a visa upon arrival without prior application.
What is visa on arrival?
Visa on arrival means that a citizen could actually travel to another country without a prior visa and be issued a valid visa upon arrival in the airport, sea harbor or land border town offices.
No pre-application is required unless stated in the requirements. An immigration officer grants your visa when you show up and only after any associated visa fees have been paid.
For example, Indians can get a visa on arrival in about 58 counties like Thailand, Cambodia, Jordan, and Indonesia. As well, Cameroonians can get to 23 counties with visa on arrival (Cape Verde, Comoros, Madagascar, Rwanda, and Senegal).
In Africa, the AU in line with vision 2063 (free trade) has asked governments to “implement mechanisms allowing for the issuing of visas on arrival for citizens of Member States, with the possibility of a 30-day stay”.
Visa on arrival is different from free visa entry. With a free visa entry, two or more countries need to sit down and sign an agreement permitting their citizens to inter visit without a visa under specific periods.
This is the case with countries in the European Union, CEMAC, Japan and the USA (only for business representatives and tourists), Cameroonians can travel to 15 counties without a Visa (Nigeria, Dominica, Chad, Botswana, Ecuador, Mali, Lesotho, Philippines, and Singapore etc.)
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