The idea of having an open visa policy among African nations is a noble idea that could enhance regional integration through trade that will strengthen economies and encourage cultural diversity.
In a debate organised the Kigali-based Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP) in partnership with the Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung Rwanda, experts from governmental and non-governmental organisations delved deeper into why it was important to implement an ‘open visa policy.’ According to experts through an open visa policy, many countries in Africa can gain more by opening up their borders to visitors.
Acknowledging that migration movements exist all over the world, they looked at how migratory movements can be managed and what should be done to ensure the successful integration of refugees. For instance, Rwanda since the beginning of last year allowed all its visitors to get a 30-day visa upon arrival without prior application.
Examining the migration policies of African countries, Dr Pierre Claver Rutayisire an expert in demography and a lecturer of Migration and Spatial Mobility at the African Centre of Excellence in Data Science who was a keynote speaker pointed out the need for Africa to come up with friendly policies.
He pointed out that in as much as open visa policy is affiliated with insecurity, with regard to international terrorism threats that are very rampant, Rwanda hasn’t registered cases of international terrorism as a result of the open-visa policy implying that the idea is feasible.
A German documentary filmmaker JakobPreuss, popularly known for “When Paul came over the sea,” a documentary showcasing the life of a Cameroonian migrant and how he struggled across the Sahara desert to the Moroccan coast, finally making it to Europe, reiterated on economic effects of migration in form of diversifying societies and transfer of knowledge.
“It’s in the interest of a country to allow migration in both directions as it is beneficial for both sides. To the places where the migrants go, societies become diverse, look at the example of the USA; its diverse society has registered great innovation and economic success. It’s good as well for the countries left. On returning, people bring new knowledge, some send remittances back home,” he said
African countries like Malawi, Tunisia and South Africa are impenetrable due to visa bureaucracy an element that has hindered trade and discouraged flow of cash among nations that could have been impactful in the region. With an open visa policy, Africans are looking at economies of scale, job creations and employment opportunities.