Making travel easy, simple and affordable is an important step towards boosting business, trade and tourism. One of the hassles associated with international travel is the process of applying for a visa. It is a subject of concern for many at this year’s World Economic Forum on Africa in Durban, where Ineng is represented was part of the Cape Town Global Shapers contingent.
Applying for a visa can be difficult, time-consuming and expensive. In addition, applying for a Visa often requires that flights and accommodation are booked in advance. If the Visa is denied, there is the risk of losing some (if not all) of those costs. This makes travel that much more risky for would-be travellers and business people.
A number of attendees at this year’s World Economic Forum on Africa experienced this exact challenge. In the end they did not attend due to to visa challenges.
In order to encourage inter-African travel for both tourism and business, government should take steps towards reducing the hassles and costs associated with travelling by easing visa regulations.
Countries within the European Union have made travel easy and effortless, with EU citizens no longer required to show passports while travelling within the Schengen Area. In contrast, travel within Africa requires citizens to acquire visas for the many African states.
Rwanda is famed for implementing visas on arrival for all African countries. Others have since followed.
By Phumlani UMajozi
What we also need to do is to grant visa-free access to most of our neighboring countries in Africa. This would certainly encourage others in the Sub-Saharan to grant visa-free access to their territories. African countries need to trade with one another to bolster their burgeoning economies – and the ease of travel in the continent would make a great positive impact.
Entrepreneurs in Public Policy recommends, based on a previous workshop with entrepreneurs, that the private companies “be allowed to assist investors with business and corporate visas that do not require biometric validation. By doing so, entrepreneurs will continue to source private investors and group tour bookings to help facilitate both foreign direct investment and tourism.” This is a fantastic idea – that will not only encourage foreigners to travel to the country, but will also boost entrepreneurship – which is what our country need
Phumlani UMajozi is Ineng’s Policy Analyst