Let’s commend Ethiopia for its evolving visa policy: any African can get visa on arrival. That is a message everyone needs to hear – Ethiopia is open for business and investment.
Ethiopia is taking the dream of free movement in Africa one step further.
The country will soon allow African citizens to enter without obtaining visas in advance, president Mulatu Teshome told parliament on Monday (Oct. 8). The move follows the decision in June by new prime minister Abiy Ahmed to start issuing online visas for tourists and visitors coming from all over the world. Currently, all travelers, except those from Kenya and Djibouti, have to get a visa before departure or receive it on arrival.
When I wrote a piece few years ago in Harvard Business Review, titled “Africa is Open for Business”, I was hoping for a moment like this. Yes, it was sheer stupidity to claim that you were open for business when your neighbors could not even enter your country. Ethiopia got the memo and the redesign is happening.
But, Africa is not an isolated island in the world, and ongoing uncertainty with some of its trading partners could imperil any sustainable progress. A trade shock is just around the corner, as the continent remains reliant on a mineral-based economy. And new, rosy economic statistics have not managed to stop strikes, riots, and other protests, which are the result of the continued reality of economic inequality. What’s more, Africa is complex, fragmented and multicultural. What works in Nigeria is not guaranteed to work in Kenya.
If the Western World makes us to dance atilogwu, ekombi, sheka, makosa, etc, before giving us visas, Africa must do better.
As Tanzania restricts movement and South Africa prefers Chinese and Indians on their visa policies, Ethiopia is showing while it is emerging as the true unity spot of Africa. Addis Ababa will simply grow as foreign entities make it a destination if the liberal visa policy stays.
Nigeria needs to learn how the competitiveness of Ethiopia will affect our capacity to continue to grow. We need to advance our policies because if people can easily enter Ethiopia, capital will follow. Yes, when you have the best continental airline, and people can easily enter your country, you have closed all the flanks. Nigeria’s visa policy has to evolve as part of Ease of Doing business.
The ease of getting visa is always correlated with flow of capital. Angola is one of the toughest African countries to get a visa, and it remains among the farthest. Yes, Angola remains largely forgotten.