Monday, 3 June 2013

Visa to blame for Africa's poor trade, say experts

Posted  Monday, June 3  2013 at  09:33

Visa requirements in Africa have hampered growth of trade and job creation in the continent, a panel of economics experts has said.
The professionals, hosted by World Economic Forum and African Development Bank (AfDB) in Marrakech, Morocco, have faulted visa restrictions that do little to the continent’s economy.
“Africa is one of the regions in the world with the highest visa requirements. Visa restrictions imply missed economic opportunities for intra-regional trade and for the local service economy such as tourism, cross-country medical services or education,” AfDB’s Vice-President Professor Mthuli Ncube said last Friday.
Even worse is the gruesome subjections Africans go through when visiting the neighbouring countries; the restrictions are always higher for those traveling within Africa than for Europeans and North Americans.
This is despite the fact that 80 per cent of Africa’s migration is intra-regional, according to ECOWAS Commissioner of macroeconomic policy Ibrahim Bocar Ba.
Razia Khan, the head of research in Africa for Standard Chartered Bank, introduced herself rather as a citizen of an African country, travelling extensively within Africa, often measuring time taken to get visas against the amount of economic research that could have been developed.
Rwanda’s Director-General of Planning at the Finance ministry, Leonard Rugwabiza, shared his country’s move to biometrix border management which has minimal inconvenience in visa section for all African citizens since the beginning of the year.
“The movement of talent and people is at the core of regional integration. Twenty-five per cent of all trade in Africa is informal. If there were no visa requirements, informal sector trading would boom,” added Professor Ncube.
“The private sector is the engine of growth, and we all talk about improving the climate for business sector. Visas are a major barrier, and pose restrictions on doing business,” concluded Abdul Awl of Dabashill Group.

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