CITIZENS of all of Africa’s 53 other nations will be free to enter Nigeria visa-free as from next year as the government plans to introduce its new point-of-entry visa regime in January 2020 under which passports are stamped at airports.
Historically, Africans have needed visas to visit other nations across the continent, although regional bodies have since sprung up, which guarantee free movement of goods and services within sub-regions. Despite this, however, when travelling from say north to southern Africa, procuring an entry visa is required, stifling travel and trade.
To remove this obstacle to the movement of goods, skills and services, Nigeria is abolishing its visa requirement for fellow Africans with plans to issue visas at the point of entry as from January. Speaking today at the Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development in Africa, holding in Egypt, President Buhari said that as from next month, all Africans arriving at Nigerian airports will no longer need a visa.
President Buhari said: “We in Nigeria have already taken the strategic decision to bring down barriers that have hindered the free movement of our people within the continent by introducing the issuance of visa at the point of entry into Nigeria to all persons holding passports of African countries with effect from January, 2020. Africa should also embark on the provision of transport connectivity by enhancing the development of roads, rail, and air links which will ease the free movement of persons, goods and services within the continent.
“In this regard, we in Nigeria have already commenced an aggressive drive to upgrade our rail transport system and road networks across the country. We should furthermore promote free trade within and amongst Africa and Africans especially now that we have launched the African Free Trade Area Agreement.”
He added that the resolution of conflict situations in African countries remains a key component in the overall development of the continent. According to President Buhari, in order to realise the Pan-African vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful continent driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena, Africa needs to end conflicts.
“As Africans it is important to focus on the issues of conflict prevention and resolution. Conflicts have devastating effects on our societies and they militate against our progress. In this regard, the need to silence the guns cannot be overemphasised.
“Nigeria is not only host to our sub regional body the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) but has also been supporting its budget substantially by up to about 60%. Nigeria has also been funding by almost 100% the operations of the Multinational Joint Task Force fighting Boko Haram terrorists in the Lake Chad Basin,” President Buhari added.
He also pointed out that corruption undermines Africa’s efforts to achieve sustainable development and realise the goals of the African Union Agenda 2063. President Buhari also urged African leaders to see education as a key tool for the transformation and repositioning the continent.