Ghana has scrapped visas for African nationals using its only international airport as a way of promoting tourism and investment in the West African country.
Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) said visitors from African Union (AU) member states would now be issued with passes valid for 30 days on arrival at the Kotoka International Airport.
Africa’s leaders and policymakers have a key role to play in helping Africans to move freely
“African citizens, affected by the policy, who arrive in the country must have a passport valid for at least three months from the date of entry,” GIS spokesperson Francis Palmdeti said in a statement.
To be allowed entry, the visitors must have a return air ticket or evidence of onward travel and show evidence of sufficient funds. They must also have proof of accommodation in the country during the duration of their stay.
The arrangement would be piloted at the Kotoka International Airport before it is extended to other ports of entry.
Palmdeti said GIS outfit had put in place measures to ensure the smooth implementation of the policy
The move follows a Visa Openness report for 2016 which said visa facilitation is central to stimulating economic growth and job creation through tourism. The report noted that it was refreshing that a growing number of governments around the world were taking decisive steps in opening up their borders.
“Opening up a country’s visa regime is a quick-win on development that remains untapped,” said Moono Mupotola, the NEPAD director for regional integration and trade at the African Development Bank.
“Visa openness promotes talent mobility and business opportunities. Africa’s leaders and policymakers have a key role to play in helping Africans to move freely in support of Agenda 2063’s call to abolish visa requirements for all Africans by 2018,” Mupotola added during the launch of the report in February 2016.
The report, which highlights regional and geographical differences, says 75 percent of countries in the top 20 most visa-open countries on the continent were in West Africa or East Africa. Only one country in the top 20 is in North Africa and there are none from Central Africa.
The report also shows that Africa’s middle income countries generally had low visa-openness scores, while the continent’s smaller, landlocked and island states were more open.
Analysts believe that efforts by Ghanaian officials to scrap visas for Africans would go a long way in reducing inconveniences for travellers.
Ghana’s decision to scrap visas for African nationals is also seen as sure way to enhance the West African country’s tourism industry and improve the relationship with its neighbours and peers on the African continent.