A new visa regime that will allow travellers from across the world to be issued a 30-day visa on arrival has been announced by Rwanda, the EastAfrican reports.
This visa-on-arrival policy, a first of its kind in Africa will begin in January 1, 2018. It was approved by a Cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame on November 8.
“Citizens of all countries will get a visa upon arrival without prior application, starting January 1, 2018. Before that, only nationals of African countries and few others were getting a visa upon arrival,” said a statement signed by Yves Butera, spokesperson of the Directorate-General of Immigration and Emigration.
“The new visa regime opens Rwanda to the world and is good for business. Rwanda believes that the free movement of people fosters trade and tourism, and is good for the continent’s integration policy. We are aware of the challenges of open borders, but as a country, we also believe that the benefits of our policy outweigh the potential setbacks,” said Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo.
Rwanda has continued to record improvements in terms of attracting investors into the country. According to the Ease of Doing Business Index published earlier this month, Kigali had improved 15 places from last year’s rank 56 to rank 41. The country had implemented five reforms in 2016, including ease of tax payments and issuance of construction permits, was ranked second on the continent behind Mauritius.
This new move is in line with the African Union spirit of encouraging free movement of people and is expected to increase the number of tourists and foreign investors coming to Rwanda, Olivier Nduhungirehe, State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in charge of East African Community affairs said.
“We have been talking about continental and regional integration and free movement of people for many years. Rwanda has taken the first step to implement this and we believe other AU member states and EAC partner states will follow suit,” Mr Nduhungirehe told The EastAfrican.
The AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government during the African Union 27th Ordinary Session held in Kigali in July 2016 agreed to implement the Free Movement of Persons and the African Passport policy. Member states were urged to adopt the African passport and work closely with the AU Commission to facilitate its issuance at the national level based on international, continental and national policy provisions and continental design and specifications.