ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Nigeria has decided to start issuing visas on arrival for all Africans, the African Union said Friday, in a major step toward the goal of free movement on the continent.
The continental body’s deputy chairman Kwesi Quartey praised the action as a “laudable move towards Africa’s integration agenda” in a Facebook post.
The AU has advocated for a “single African passport” that aims to improve intra-African trade and has called for “the abolishment of visa requirements for all African citizens in all African countries by 2018.”
A spokeswoman for the AU chairperson, Ebba Kalondo, told The Associated Press they were waiting for details from Nigeria as the news was “announced verbally with no formal communication.”
Nigerian officials could not immediately be reached. Nigeria announced the action at a retreat for permanent representatives, the AU’s political affairs office said in a tweet.
Africans need visas to travel to 55 percent of the continent, according to AU figures.
According to the African Development Bank’s 2017 Africa Visa Openness Report , Africans can get a visa on arrival in just 24 percent of other African countries, while North Americans, for example, have easier travel access on the continent.
“Free movement on the continent would entail the implementation of continent-wide visa-free regimes including issuance of visas at ports of entry for Africans,” the AU suggested in February.
Ghana, Rwanda, Mauritius and the Seychelles already issue visas on arrival to all African passport holders, the AU’s Quartey has said.
In 2016, the electronic African Union Passport was launched and issued to heads of state and governments, with the goal of expanding it to citizens.