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Rwanda Opens Its Borders for Visa-Free Travel, Joins Growing Trend in Africa

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Rwanda has joined the list of African countries, including Gambia, Benin, and Seychelles, to announce visa-free entry for travelers across the continent.

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, addressing the 23rd Global Summit of the World Travel and Tourism Council in Kigali, declared, “Any African can fly to Rwanda at their convenience without any entry charges.”

President Kagame emphasized the importance of focusing on the continent’s own market and highlighted the potential of the African middle class to drive global tourism in the years to come.

Kenya’s President William Ruto, echoing similar sentiments, disclosed plans to open the East African nation for visa-free travel to all Africans by December 31.

He criticized visa restrictions among African nations, stating, “When people cannot travel, it impacts not just individuals but also businesses and entrepreneurs, resulting in collective losses.”

Experts have consistently underlined that hindering Africans’ mobility across borders, residence rights, and establishment rights acts as a barrier to trade and obstructs industrial development, stunting innovation and regional value chain formation.

The African Union has been spearheading the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) with the goal of enhancing intra-Africa trade and generating millions of jobs for the continent’s youth.

Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, highlighted the need to dismantle non-tariff barriers to trade for the success of the AfCFTA, advocating for the freedom of movement across the continent without stringent visa procedures.

Emphasizing the potential economic growth within the AfCFTA, Dr. Nsanzabaganwa stressed that liberalizing travel and trade could lead to significant job creation and increased opportunities for all Africans.

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Rwanda’s decision to open its borders is expected to invigorate the country’s flourishing tourism sector. The nation recorded a remarkable 56% surge in tourism revenue during the first half of 2023, with earnings reaching US$247 million compared to US$158 million in the same period of 2022.

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