Barely a week after the 12th African Union (AU) Heads of State extraordinary Summit on African Continental Free Trade (CFTA), South Africa has granted Ghana and a few other countries a visa-free status.
In a statement released by the South Africa Minister of Home affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi, citizens of seven countries will be able to enter South Africa without a visa. “Tourism will soar if we relax visa requirements for entry into South Africa. We know that Tourism is very important for job creation. “Of the 193 countries which are member states of the United Nations, the Department has granted visa-free status to 75 countries. ”Of these, 16 are on our continent and are SADC members and 59 are from all over the world,” he said at a briefing in South Africa.
President of the African Public Relations Association (APRA) Mr Yomi Badejo-Okusanya in his reaction to this development commended the South African Government and urged other African countries to do the same. He added that “this move will promote intra-trade in Africa, boost tourism and encourage skills migration as well as fluidity among the nations without which the goals and ideals of CFTA can never be achieved”. ‘’We hope this will begin many of such pronouncements within Africa going forward’’ he added.
The list of seven countries granted visa-free access includes Qatar, United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Ghana and Sao Tome and Principe. According to Henley Passport Index, South Africans can visit 99 countries around the globe visa-free and the Department of Home Affairs says the country’s new eVisa system will launch in November 2019.
The eVisa system will allow tourists and visitors to South Africa to apply for their visas online. These applications will then be sent to a central adjudication and approval office while the prospective visitors sit at the comfort of their home.
Meanwhile, the Minister said that his office will immediately enter into discussions with the countries about how a visa-free regime will work with homework still needing to be done for countries like China, India and Nigeria.