Rwanda lifts visa restrictions on African countries

FILE — President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame walks along Downing Street to a meeting with Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, in London, Thursday, May 4, 2023.

Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, on Thursday, announced the lifting of visa restrictions for Africans planning to visit the country.

He said this in Kigali when he pitched the potential of Africa as ‘a unified tourism destination’

“Let there be no mistake about it. Any African can get on a plane to Rwanda whenever they wish and will not pay a thing to enter our country,” he announced.

For decades, several African leaders have entertained the idea of free movement by citizens across the continent, even going as far as advocating for a unified single African passport.

Rwanda has been on a campaign to boost its tourism sector, partnering with European football clubs like Arsenal and Bayern Munich to promote the country as a tourist destination. Kagame said, “We should not lose sight of our own continental market. Africans are the future of global tourism as our middle class continues to grow at a fast pace in the decades to come.”

The African Union hailed the decision of Rwanda to improve free trade across the continent.

“I urge all African states that have not yet done so to take similar measures,” AU Commission Chairman, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said on Twitter after Kenya’s announcement.”

Trade among African countries is at just 16 per cent, while trade among European Union states is at 70 per cent, he told AU trade ministers on Friday.

Several African countries have also entered bilateral agreements for visa-free travel, most recently Ghana and South Africa, and Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. [The Punch]

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