This fifth edition of the Index published on Thursday highlights the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which threatens to reverse Africa’s economic gains of recent years, affecting sectors from tourism to investment.
As travel restrictions ease and safety measures are put in place to contain the pandemic, sustaining progress and momentum on more comfortable continent-wide travel remain vital.
The 2020 Index shows that a record 54% of the continent is accessible for African visitors, who no longer need visas to travel or can get one on arrival, up by 9% since 2016.
In 2020, The Gambia joined Seychelles and Benin in allowing visa-free access for all African travellers.
In addition, 20 countries moved upwards in rank on the Index, while 50 countries improved or maintained their scores.
The report shows a significant rise in e-Visas, offered by 24 countries in Africa.
Notwithstanding the gains made, findings show that African citizens still need visas to travel to 46% of African countries. Countries in East and West Africa rank highest among the top performers, worthy of emulation by countries in the other regions.
African Development Bank Vice-President, Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery, Dr Khaled F. Sherif says as the evolving fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, countries increasingly need to look beyond domestic frontiers to boost their economic prospects.
Visa openness will support Africa to reposition its future growth.
As close to half of African destinations ease travel restrictions in line with plans to manage the pandemic, travel safety and security remain foremost in policymakers’ and people’s minds as it concerns opening up of borders, and as governments update measures for permitting travel.