African Countries Give Europeans Visa Free Entry While Banning Fellow Africans
21 May 2024
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### Breaking News: Aliko Dangote Criticizes Visa Restrictions for African Investors at Africa CEO Forum

Africa’s wealthiest man, Aliko Dangote, has openly criticized the restrictive visa policies faced by African investors across the continent, spotlighting a significant barrier to intra-African business at the Africa CEO Forum Annual Summit in Kigali, Rwanda. Dangote’s remarks highlighted the cumbersome process he faces, needing to secure 35 different visas to travel within Africa on his Nigerian passport.

During his speech, Dangote expressed his frustrations to President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, emphasizing the disparity in treatment between African and European passport holders. “It’s most annoying that if you are treating everybody the same, then I can understand. But a French businessman like Patrick Pouyanne doesn’t need 35 visas to travel in Africa,” Dangote lamented, pointing out the ease with which European nationals navigate the continent.

Experts weigh in on the implications of such policies. Dr. Amara Konneh, an African development analyst, noted, “This visa quandary not only impedes personal movement but significantly hinders the economic integration vital for the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).” Konneh suggests that easing travel restrictions could spur investment and economic synergy across nations.

South Africa was specifically mentioned for its conflicting stance, which allows visa-free entry to 28 European nations while restricting access to nationals from most African countries. Dr. Susan Mboya, a political scientist specializing in African policy, remarked, “South Africa’s policy might be seen as perpetuating colonial-era divisions rather than embracing a pan-African spirit.”

Dangote also touched upon the broader business challenges within the continent, stating, “Our main job is to make sure the regional markets all work. Once they work, then we can now go to AfCFTA. But then, for AfCFTA also, we need to make sure that it works.”

The debate over visa openness is intensifying as leaders and business magnates like Dangote call for reforms. These voices highlight the need for a unified approach to foster economic unity and ease of doing business across Africa, which are critical for the continent’s growth and global economic stature.

As discussions unfold, the business community and policymakers are urged to consider reforms that would not only benefit high-profile investors like Dangote but also the myriad of smaller enterprises striving to expand their reach across Africa.- Agencies, BBC, Bloomberg