Nigeria will issue visas on arrival to all African passport holders effective January 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari has announced.
His tweet of the move on Thursday confirmed an earlier tweet on Wednesday by Somalia’s Foreign Affairs Minister.
Ambassador Ahmed Awad wrote: “I wish to profoundly commend President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria who just announced at the Aswan Forum complete visa exemption for all Africans.
Nigeria is committed to supporting the free movement of Africans within Africa. Yesterday at the Aswan Forum in Egypt I announced that, in January 2020, we will commence issuance of visas at the point of entry into Nigeria, to all persons holding passports of African countries.
— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) December 12, 2019
“Starting January 2020 Africans will be able to arrive in Nigeria without visas. It’s such an exemplary decision. Thanks your Excellency.”
But it was not untill Thursday morning that Buhari tweeted the decision. stressing that it was part of Nigeria’s commitment “to supporting the free movement of Africans within Africa.”
The regional bloc Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, of which Nigeria is part already guarantees free movement (visa-free entry) of citizens across the 16-member bloc.
The move means that visitors will not need to fill out paperwork before they arrive. They can embark on the journey and get visas upon arrival at any of Nigeria’s entry points.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous and biggest economy, is the 17th country in the continent to introduce visa on arrival for all African nationals. The others are Sierra Leone, Kenya, Rwanda, Ghana, Seychelles, Uganda, Djibouti, Somalia, Madagascar, Comoros, Mauritius, Togo, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Mozambique and Benin.
The adoption of visa on arrival by African countries is in line with the Free Movement of Persons and the African Passport policy adopted by the African Union at the 27th ordinary session held in Kigali, Rwanda in July 2016.
African states are expected 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. The passport issuance, however, is yet to take off.
AU originally set a 2018 deadline for the removal of visa requirements for all African citizens in all African countries.
After removing visa requirements for African nationals, Rwanda announced in November 2017 a new visa regime that allows travellers from all over the world to be issued a 30-day visa on arrival in Kigali, beginning 1 January 2018.