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Malawi ranks low on Africa Visas Openness Index by Africa Development Bank

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) has ranked Malawi 28th out of 56 African countries on their flexibility to welcome visitors, especially from other African countries, through requirements for Visa’s as assessed under AfDB’s inaugural Africa Visa Openness Index.

The ranking follows Malawi’s introduction of new reciprocal Visa requirements and higher fees for countries that requires Visa’s for Malawians and places Malawi among the most closed countries, especially in southern Africa where on South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia and Angola are lower.

All of Malawi’s neighbours, including Mozambique (7) Tanzania (17), Zambia (20) and Zimbabwe (27) are better ranked in the index which is topped by Seychelles and anchored by Western Sahara.

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The findings of the Visa Openness Index, which has been developed in partnership with McKinsey & Company and the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Agenda Council on Africa, will be presented and discussed at the Africa CEO Forum in Abidjan on 21-22 March 2016.

AfDB said in a statement that their assessments shows that Africa largely remains largely closed off to travellers from other African countries.

“On average, Africans need visas to travel to 55 percent of other African countries, can get visas on arrival in only 25 percent of other countries and don’t need a visa to travel to just 20 percent of other countries on the continent.

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“Opening up a country’s visa regime is a quick-win on development that remains un tapped,” s ay s Moono Mupotola, Director of NEPAD, 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.”

The report highlights regional and geographical differences, according to AfDB which states that currently, 75 percent of countries in the top 20 most visa-open countries on the continent are in west Africa or east Africa.

Only one country in the top 20 is in north Africa and there are none in the top 20 from central Africa.

The report also shows that Africa’s middle income countries have low visa-openness scores overall, while the continent’s smaller, landlocked and island states are more open.

“When we started this work, only five African countries offered liberal access to all Africans. This number has grown to 13 over the past three years.

We are making progress, but need to accelerate the pace” says Acha Leke, Director of McKinsey & Company and member of the WEF Global Agenda Council on Africa.

AfDB says African countries stand to gain from promoting more visa-free regional blocs and pushing for greater reciprocity, as well as from introducing more visa on arrival policies for Africans.

Seychelles has been rewarded for its visa openness policy, offering visa-free access for all Africans, while Mauritius and Rwanda, who are in the top 10 most visa-open countries, have adopted open visa policies for visitors from other African countries and have seen a big impact on tourism, investment and economic competitiveness as a result.

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