The Federal Republic of Nigeria has disclosed that from next month, holders of an African passport can apply for a visa upon arrival in the country, with the aim of encouraging the free movement of people on the continent.
The announcement was made by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aswan Forum on Peace and Sustainable Development, which opened on Wednesday in Egypt.
“We in Nigeria have already taken the strategic decision to bring down barriers that have hindered the free movement of our people within the continent by introducing the issuance of visa at the point of entry into Nigeria to all persons holding passports of African countries with effect from January 2020,” Buhari said.
The seeming abruptness and lack of a detailed, official announcement from the government suggests that the policy might remain a work in progress but a tweet from the Somali foreign affairs minister suggests it is slated to kick-start in Jan. 2020.
The change in visa policy by Nigeria comes on back of the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, a treaty seeking to establish a continent-wide marketplace with increased trade and freer movement among its major pillars. When the new policy is implemented, Nigeria will also join Kenya as well as Ethiopia as countries which have recently established visa on arrival policies for all African nationals.
With the African Union strongly pushing for more integration on the continent, it will likely be banking on the effect of reciprocity to see even more African countries adopt visa-free or visa on arrival policies for African passport holders. Should that happen, current realities that see Americans and Europeans travel more easily across the continent than Africans may yet be reversed.
“We should furthermore promote free trade within and amongst Africa and Africans especially now that we have launched the African Free Trade Area Agreement,” he added.
President Buhari also appealed for massive investment in Africa’s transportation infrastructure.
Nigeria is Africa’s biggest economy and market with some 190 million inhabitants. Along with Benin, it was one of the last nations to join the new African free trade zone in July.
The goal is to become the world’s largest free trade zone by cutting trade tariffs and barriers for 1.2 billion people.
The new market is set to become active in 2020 as negotiations continue to manage its progressive implementation.
In contrast to its aims of a free flow of trade, Nigeria in late August and “until further notice” closed the borders with neighbouring countries – highly dependent on the economic giant – to block contraband products such as petrol and rice.
4,572 total views, 1 views today