AU: Nigeria to Issue Visas to Africans Upon Arrival

Pedestrians shop at a busy Balogun Market in Lagos, Nigeria, Lagos, Nigeria Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017. Two of Africa's leading economies say they have emerged from recession. South Africa and Nigeria on Tuesday released figures showing economic growth in the second quarter of this year. (AP Photo/ Sunday Alamba)

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ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Nigeria has decided to start issuing visas on arrival for all Africans, the African Union said Friday, in a major step toward the goal of free movement on the continent.

The continental body’s deputy chairman Kwesi Quartey praised the action as a “laudable move towards Africa’s integration agenda” in a Facebook post.

The AU has advocated for a “single African passport” that aims to improve intra-African trade and has called for “the abolishment of visa requirements for all African citizens in all African countries by 2018.”

A spokeswoman for the AU chairperson, Ebba Kalondo, told The Associated Press they were waiting for details from Nigeria as the news was “announced verbally with no formal communication.”

Africans need visas to travel to 55 percent of the continent, according to AU figures.

According to the African Development Bank’s 2017 Africa Visa Openness Report, Africans can get a visa on arrival in just 24 percent of other African countries, while North Americans, for example, have easier travel access on the continent.

Ghana, Rwanda, Mauritius and the Seychelles already issue visas on arrival to all African passport holders, the AU’s Quartey has said.

In 2016, the electronic African Union Passport was launched and issued to heads of state and governments, with the goal of expanding it to citizens.