WINDHOEK, Namibia– Namibia ranked 38th out of 54 African countries for moving ahead to liberalise its visa policy framework in October 2017 by having all Africans issued visas on arrival.

This forms part of a wider goal to remove visa requirements.

Namibia dropped two places from 36th in 2017, while it ranked 38th in 2016 as well for visa openness in Africa, the Africa Visa Openness Report for 2018 issued on Wednesday said.

The report is compiled by the African Development Bank (AfDB) along with the African Union Commission and the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Africa.

The ranking also follows earlier plans to allow Southern African Development Community (SADC) citizens to access the country visa-free. African diplomat and official passport holders have since 2016 been allowed to enter Namibia without a visa.

The report aims to show which countries are facilitating travel for citizens of other countries and how or whether they allow people to travel to their country without a visa, if travellers can get a visa on arrival in the country or if visitors need to get one before they travel.

Benin joined Seychelles at the top of the index, for the most progress in opening up its borders to African travellers, moving up from 27th place in 2017 to first place this year.

Zimbabwe also moved into the top 20 with its introduction of a visa-on-arrival policy for SADC members.

Rwanda, Togo, Guinea Bissau, Uganda and Ghana are also among the top African countries for visa openness, while Sudan and Equatorial Guinea rank the lowest.

Overall, when compared to 2017, Africans do not need a visa to travel to 25 per cent of other African countries (up from 22 per cent) and need visas to travel to 51 per cent of other African countries (down from 54 per cent), the report stated.

“However, the fact that Africans still require visas to travel to just over half of other African countries shows that more progress is needed to realise free movement of people continent-wide,” the AfDB said.

It further noted that as infrastructure expands across Africa, and trade and investment opportunities become available, Africans will need to travel with greater ease.

Solutions such as the African passport, visa-free regional blocs, multi-year visas, or visa-on-arrival schemes should continue to be promoted.

The AfDB stated that the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area and the Single African Air Transport Market were major milestones in the creation of a regulatory environment that promotes air connectivity and makes it less expensive for Africans to travel within Africa.