Kigali, with a population of 1.2 million, is the capital and largest city of Rwanda.

Kigali, with a population of 1.2 million, is the capital and largest city of Rwanda.

Photo by Yannick Tylle.

Rwanda Announces Its Visa-Free Travel for All Africans

Rwanda joins visa-free travel trend, meaning Africans can visit the country without a visa.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has announced a significant policy change, ushering in visa-free travel for all Africans. This move makes Rwanda the fourth African nation to adopt this approach, as President Kagame revealed during the 23rd Global Summit of the World Travel and Tourism Council held in Kigali, Rwanda.

Kagame emphasized the potential of Africa as "a unified tourism destination" and highlighted that Africa still relies on 60 percent of its tourists from outside the continent, according to data from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

He stated, "Any African can get on a plane to Rwanda whenever they wish and they will not pay a thing to enter our country." Once implemented, Rwanda will join Gambia, Benin, and Seychelles as one of the few African countries removing travel restrictions for Africans.

Additionally, Kenyan President William Ruto unveiled plans to allow all Africans to travel to Kenya visa-free by December 31, underlining the importance of eliminating visa restrictions among African nations.

In 2016, the African Union introduced the African Passport and free movement of people, aiming to facilitate Africans' ability to travel, work, and live within their own continent. However, thus far, the travel document has been issued primarily to diplomats and AU officials.

Furthermore, the African Union launched the African Continental Free Trade Area, a continent-wide free trade zone with an estimated worth of $3.4 trillion, designed to create a unified market for the continent's 1.3 billion people and boost economic development.

Rwanda's decision to open its borders without visas for African citizens aligns with its strategy to capitalize on the growing tourism market in Africa, driven by the expanding middle class. The country has also actively promoted its tourism sector through partnerships with prominent football clubs like Arsenal and Bayern Munich.

In the ongoing push for increased mobility and collaboration across the continent, other African countries have been entering bilateral agreements for visa-free travel. Recent examples include Ghana and South Africa, as well as Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.