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Ghana Opens Borders for Visa-Free Travel to All Africans

President Akufo-Addo announces a bold policy to boost continental integration and trade

by Victor Adetimilehin

Ghana has become the first country in Africa to implement a visa-free policy for all African citizens travelling to the West African nation. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo announced the move at the opening of the 2024 Africa Prosperity Dialogue on Thursday, January 25, at the Peduase Lodge.

The president said the policy was part of his government’s commitment to promoting the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which aims to create a single market for goods and services across the continent. He said Ghana was ready to welcome Africans from all walks of life, regardless of their origin, ethnicity, or religion.

“We believe that Africa is our home, and we have a duty to make it a better place for ourselves and our children. We want to unleash the potential of our people and our resources for the benefit of all,” he said.

The president also called on other African countries to follow Ghana’s example and ease visa restrictions for fellow Africans. Furthermore, he said this would enhance mobility, tourism, trade, and investment within the continent. He added that Ghana was working to improve its infrastructure, security, and public services to ensure a pleasant and safe experience for visitors.

The participants of the Africa Prosperity Dialogue, which brought together heads of state and government, business leaders, and experts to discuss how to develop prosperity in Africa through production, value addition, and trade, applauded and praised the visa-free policy.

The secretary-general of the AfCFTA, Wamkele Mene, commended Ghana for its leadership and vision in advancing the continental integration agenda. He said Ghana was one of the first countries to ratify the AfCFTA agreement and host the secretariat in its capital, Accra. He also said Ghana was one of the top performers in implementing the AfCFTA protocols and regulations.

“Ghana is setting an example for the rest of Africa to emulate. By opening its doors to all Africans, Ghana is demonstrating its confidence and trust in the African people. This is a bold and historic step that will boost intra-African trade and cooperation. It will also send a strong message to the world that Africa is open for business and ready to partner with anyone who shares our vision of a prosperous and peaceful continent,” he said.

The visa-free policy is expected to take effect from February 1, 2024. According to the Ghana Immigration Service, African travellers will only need a valid passport or travel document to enter Ghana. They will be granted a visa on arrival for up to 90 days, renewable for another 90 days upon request. The laws and regulations of Ghana and the customs and culture of the Ghanaian people will require them to abide by them.

Moreover, people see the policy as a major boost for the AfCFTA, which came into force in January 2021 and covers a market of 1.3 billion people and a combined GDP of $3.4 trillion. The AfCFTA aims to eliminate tariffs on 90% of goods, facilitate the movement of persons and capital, and harmonize standards and policies across the continent. It is projected to increase intra-African trade by 52% by 2022 and lift millions of Africans out of poverty by 2035.

People expect the policy to have a positive impact on Ghana’s economy, which the global pandemic and recession have hit hard. According to the World Bank, Ghana’s GDP growth slowed down to 0.9% in 2020, the lowest in 37 years. The bank also estimated that Ghana’s poverty rate increased from 23.4% in 2019 to 25.6% in 2020, reversing the gains made in the previous years.

The president said he was optimistic that the visa-free policy, along with other measures taken by his government, such as the Ghana CARES program, would help the country recover and rebuild from the crisis. In conclusion, he said he was confident that Ghana would achieve its vision of becoming a high-income, inclusive, and sustainable economy by 2050.

“We have a unique opportunity to transform our continent and our country for the better. We have the resources, the talent, and the will to do it. Let us seize this moment and make history together,” he said.

Source: Modern Ghana 

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