Rwanda joins Kenya to scrap visa requirement for all Africans

I am not about to tell Rwandans to go to Uganda - Paul Kagame
Rwandan President Paul Kagame

Kigali, Rwanda | By Michael Wandati | Rwandan President Paul Kagame has ushered in a significant policy change by offering visa-free travel to all Africans, positioning Rwanda as the fourth African nation to do so.

President Kagame declared on Thursday 2, November 2023, “Let there be no mistake about it. Any African can get on a plane to Rwanda whenever they wish and will not pay a thing to enter our country.”

This landmark decision of offering visa-free travel to all Africans is aimed at harnessing the potential of Africa’s burgeoning tourism industry, fueled by the expanding middle class across the continent.

Rwanda has been diligently working to enhance its tourism sector, collaborating with prominent football clubs like Arsenal and Bayern Munich to showcase the country as an attractive tourist destination.

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With this development, Rwanda joins the ranks of Seychelles, The Gambia, and Benin as one of the few African countries that offer visa-free access to all African citizens, as per an AU-supported report.

Notably, Kenya’s President William Ruto recently disclosed plans to eliminate visa requirements for all African visitors by 2024, demonstrating a broader trend toward greater openness and accessibility across the continent.

Speaking at an international conference, President Ruto emphasized the need to eliminate visa restrictions among African countries, recognizing their counterproductive nature.

“It is time we… realise that having visa restrictions amongst ourselves is working against us,” said President Ruto.

Furthermore, many African nations have engaged in bilateral agreements to facilitate visa-free travel. Most recently, Ghana and South Africa, as well as Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), have fostered such agreements, fostering increased connectivity and cooperation among African nations.

While eliminating all visa requirements for African visitors might currently present challenges, the Visa Openness Index report proposes several alternative measures; these measures include reducing visa fees, establishing visa-on-arrival as the standard for African visitors, and implementing a secure e-visa system.