Rwanda announces visa waiver for all Africans as continent opens to free movement of people

by MMC
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NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Rwanda announced Thursday it would allow Africans to travel visa-free into the country, becoming the latest country on the continent to announce such a measure. aimed at promoting the free movement of people and trade to compete with the European Schengen zone.

President Paul Kagame made the announcement in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, where he showcased Africa’s potential as a “unified tourism destination” for a continent that still relies on 60 percent of its tourists coming from outside Africa , according to data from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. Africa.

“Any African can fly to Rwanda whenever they want and they will not pay anything to enter our country,” Kagame said at the 23rd World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit.

“We must not lose sight of our own continental market,” he said. “Africans are the future of global tourism as our middle class continues to grow at a rapid pace in the decades to come. »

Once implemented, Rwanda will become the fourth African country to remove travel restrictions for Africans. Other countries that have waived visas for African nationals are Gambia, Benin and Seychelles.

Kenyan President William Ruto announced plans on Monday to allow all Africans to travel to the East African country without a visa by December 31.

“The visa restrictions between us are working against us. When people cannot travel, businessmen cannot travel, entrepreneurs cannot travel, we all become net losers,” Ruto told an international summit in Congo Brazzaville.

The African Union in 2016, he launched an African passport with great fanfare, saying it would rival the European Union model by “unlocking the continent’s potential.” However, so far only diplomats and AU officials have received this travel document.

The African passport and free movement of people “aims to remove restrictions on the ability of Africans to travel, work and live on their own continent,” the AU says on its website.

The AU also launched the African Continental Free Trade Areaa continent-wide free trade zone estimated at $3.4 trillion, which aims to create a single, unified market for the continent’s 1.3 billion people and boost economic development.

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Follow AP’s Africa coverage at: https://apnews.com/hub/africa

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