Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote has voiced significant concerns over the difficulties he and other Africans face when traveling across their own continent. Speaking at the Africa CEO Forum in Kigali, Dangote highlighted the cumbersome process of obtaining 35 different visas for travel within Africa. 

This call for change aims to ease movement across national borders to boost economic and social integration.

Dangote Advocates Visa Reform for Unified Africa

Africa's Richest Man Demands Visa Reform for Smoother Continental Travel

(Photo : Zenith Bank PLC on YouTube)

At a recent event in Kigali, Aliko Dangote, Africa's wealthiest businessman, brought attention to a major issue that hampers economic progress in Africa: the challenging visa procedures for Africans traveling within their own continent. 

Dangote shared his personal struggles with the audience, noting that despite his huge business operations across many African countries, he needs to apply for 35 different visas to travel across these nations.

During his speech at the Africa CEO Forum, he expressed his frustration with the time-consuming process, which he believes is unreasonable for someone aiming to foster business and development in Africa, as reported by CNN

His plight resonated with many, drawing laughter and nods of agreement from the crowd.

Dangote also pointed out the disparity in travel freedom within Africa, especially when compared to European citizens. For instance, he mentioned that a French businessman sitting next to him at the forum would face different restrictions despite both being on the same continent.

Countries like Rwanda have made progress by allowing visa-free entry to all African nationals since 2023, joining others like Benin, The Gambia, and Seychelles. 

However, Dangote's experience underscores a widespread issue where many African countries still impose strict visa requirements on their neighbors, often leading to a sense of division and hindrance to free movement.

This concern is echoed by migration experts who suggest that fears of permanent migration and security issues contribute to these stringent policies. 

Dangote and other leaders hope to pave the way for a more connected and economically integrated Africa by addressing these visa challenges.

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Visa Changes Poised to Boost Africa's Tourism

Industry experts and insiders recently emphasized that removing visa requirements, lowering airfares, and enhancing connectivity could significantly boost the tourism industry in Africa. 

These changes improved infrastructure and stronger public-private partnerships were discussed as key drivers of economic growth and job creation across the continent at the East African Regional Travel Expo in Nairobi in November 2023.

China Daily revealed that only Benin, Gambia, Rwanda, and Seychelles offer visa-free access to all Africans, with some nations in East and Southern Africa allowing passport-free cross-border travel. 

Experts argue that extending visa-free travel continent-wide would benefit tourism and support the African Continental Free Trade Area.

A new report by the World Travel and Tourism Council projects that the travel and tourism sector could add $168 billion to Africa's economy and create over 18 million jobs in the next decade. 

This growth is contingent on improved air transport infrastructure, easier visa processes, and enhanced tourism marketing.

Tour operators like Ivy Wanjiku from NatureSurf Africa highlighted the practical benefits of scrapping visas, noting that visa-free travel would eliminate complications and reduce costs, allowing more families and groups to travel across Africa without bureaucratic hurdles.

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