This year 20 countries moved further up the index and since 2016 nearly all countries (93%) have improved or maintained their index scores, which is calculated by looking at whether an African visitor to another country needs to get a visa in their home country before traveling; has the option to get a visa on arrival; or can visit without a visa.

Seychelles, The Gambia, and Benin topped the index as countries that offer completely visa-free access to all African passport holders.

Now Africans do not need a visa to travel to 26% of the countries on the continent with most of that coming from sub-regional agreements such as in the East African Community and ECOWAS states in West Africa. Around 28% of Africans can get a visa on arrival. But nearly half of African passport holders still need to get visas before traveling.

This isn’t just about bragging rights on moving up an index, it’s also about the need for African governments to, at least, align with the spirit of what they’re expected to practice with the official implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement next year. In simple terms, under the agreement African countries will be able to trade goods and services without tariffs with each other.

As the AfDB says in its report: “Allowing freedom of movement will mean African investors and entrepreneurs, including young people, can access information, skills, and technology to capitalize on these opportunities.”

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