Tanzania’s Immigration Department on Monday clarified that citizens of Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo can still get visas on arrival.
Immigration spokesperson Ali Mtanda said that although the two countries belonged to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) — they had a separate arrangement with Dar es Salaam for their citizens to apply for visas when moving between the countries.
Such agreements, he said, “are entered between countries for various reasons”.
Citizens of the DR Congo and Angola have been entering Tanzania visa-free as per the regional bloc’s agreement.
On September 21, Tanzania announced that Nigeria, Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Pakistan were scrapped from visa-on-arrival privilege and its citizens travelling to Tanzania.
They are now required to apply for the entry permit three months ahead of their travel.
Tanzania has, in the recent past, cracked down on illegal immigrants, arresting mostly Ethiopians en route to South Africa.
Some of them are serving jail terms in Tanzanian prisons while others were deported.
While the East African Community and the SADC have free movement agreements, the African Union is also pushing for a continental free movement as it seeks to implement a single African market — the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
In East Africa, Rwanda has made more progress in opening up its borders, with the Africa Visa openness Index 2018 by the African Development Bank (AfDB) ranking it the third most visa open country on the continent. The others are Seychelles and Benin.
Uganda and Kenya feature in the top 10 at numbers six and nine respectively. Tanzania is ranked number 18, below lawless Somalia.
The index features seven West African countries — Senegal, Mauritania, Cape Verde, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Togo and Benin —in the top 20.
The assessment is based on the progress made on visa openness in the past two years.
The top countries on the list have enacted policies allowing Africans greater visa free or visa-on-arrival access.
The index shows that travellers within the continent continue to face challenges and wasted days or hours in transit due the inability to implement conducive and common visa regimes.
Experts at the recent African Economic Conference, hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Kigali, said that despite leaders’ commitments to ease movement, little has been achieved in building roads or air routes linking cities, while many Africans are still denied entry to some countries because of visas.
This problem, they warned, will result in the implementation of the Free Movement of People Protocol — viewed as a key pillar to regional integration and the AfCFTA.
“The commitments to ease movement that have been made must be realised and jobs have to be created,” said Paul Coullier, professor of economics and public policy at the University of Oxford.
“The barriers in Africa serve in the interest of the more developed countries. The task over the next decade is to build more connectivity among cities and remove barriers that infringe growth on the continent,” he added.
AfDB Director General for East Africa Gabriel Negatu said the Africa Visa Openness Index has helped raise awareness and drive visa policy reforms across the continent aimed at easing movement of people and unlocking opportunities for intra-African tourism, trade and investment.
“In so doing, the Bank is contributing directly to the objectives of the AU initiative for a Single African passport,” said Mr Negatu.
Rwanda’s Minister of State in charge of Economic Planning Claudine Uwera, said that Kigali had shown political will to push for a visa-free Africa for the continent’s citizens.
“Rwanda announced early this year a visa on arrival platform for travellers from all African countries. Development and prosperity will simply not be possible if we do not integrate,” she said.
“Governance will determine the development path for our countries. Equally important is the role of political will and commitment from African leaders. Important pages of our continent’s development history are being written. Let’s take this opportunity to move the continent ahead.”
The 2018 Visa Openness Index shows that Africans require visas to travel to over half the countries on the continent.
The top 20 visa-open countries continue to improve their visa liberal regimes while 43 countries improved or maintained their score.
Benin made the highest jump by opening up its borders to African travellers, which enabled it to move from 27th in 2017 to first place in 2018.
The country alongside Seychelles are the only two on the continent that do not charge Africans visa fees.
Source: The East African