Thursday, February 9, 2023

Botswana is among least-welcoming to other Africans

With a score of 0.321 in the Africa Visa Openness Index (AVOI), Botswana is one of the 35 African countries that are least welcoming to other Africans.

The AVOI measures the extent to which African countries are open to visitors from other African countries. It analyzes each country’s visa requirements to show which countries on the continent facilitate travel to their territory. For each country, the AVOI calculates the number of African countries whose citizens must obtain a visa before travelling there, the number of countries whose citizens may obtain a visa upon arrival, and the number of countries whose citizens do not need a visa to enter. Each country is then assigned a visa openness score and ranked accordingly. The main sources of information are the International Air Transport Association and countries’ official websites.

AVOI scores range from 0 to 1, where 0 designates countries with the most restrictive visa policies and 1 designates countries with the most welcoming policies. The higher a country’s index score, the more “visa-open” is the country and the higher it ranks. Through such methodology, Botswana ranks 35 out of a total of 53 countries. All SADC countries but Seychelles are also deemed to be least-welcoming.

For the first time, the AVOI analyzes visa openness by regional economic communities – which are leading the way in facilitating free movement of people. The SADC Protocol on Trade in Services entered into force on 13 January 2022 and for it to most stimulate trade in the region, the movement of people in Southern Africa must be liberalized. Visa openness in SADC appeared largely unaffected by the pandemic and has retained its slight upward trajectory since 2018. AVOI scores of more than half of SADC’s members fall below the mean score for SADC overall. The 2022 Index notes that Namibia and Botswana have called for fast-tracking the use of identification documents instead of passports to ease travel between the two countries.

In related statistical exercise, the Henley Passport Index places Botswana 63rd among a total of 109 countries. The latter compares visa-free access of 199 different passports to 227 travel destinations and ranks all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa. The total score for each passport is equal to the number of destinations for which no visa is required. The top-ranking Japanese passport gives visa-free access to 193 destinations (85 percent of the world) that collectively account for 98 percent of the global economy (with Japan’s own GDP contribution being around 5 percent). By contrast, at the bottom of the ranking, the Afghanistan passport provides visa-free access to only 12 percent of the world and less than 1 percent of global economic output.

The 2023 Henley Passport Index says that a powerful passport is a conduit to economic opportunity and well-being.

“Far more than a travel document that defines our freedom of movement, a strong passport also provides significant financial freedoms in terms of international investment and business opportunities,” it says.

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