The VisaFreeAfrica campaign, launched by the Kigali Global Shapers during the World Economic Forum for Africa in 2016 includes a global petition that calls for all 54 African countries to grant a 30-day visa on arrival to all African citizens by 2022.
For the past 30 years, the African Union has attempted to address free movement on the continent. The “Agenda 2063” plan to introduce a common African passport by 2020 is in motion but African citizens still need visas to travel to 42 out of 54 African countries.
The NAS and VFA partnership took roots at the World Economic Forum meeting held in Davos, Switzerland in January 2017 and was formalized almost immediately. NAS, the fastest growing aviation services provider in the emerging markets, has made a five-year commitment to support this campaign which will be implemented in several African countries in the coming months.
Michaella Rugwizangoga, Curator at World Economic Forum Global Shapers said, “With support from National Aviation Services, the Kigali Shapers will be able to better coordinate a continental effort towards open African borders and facilitate the removal of visa requirements on the continent.”
Hassan El-Houry, NAS Group CEO, said “As a partner in Africa’s development, we are aware of the mobility issues faced by youth and businesses in the region. With our investments in the region and by supporting Visa Free Africa, we continue to drive efforts for the development of the continent and its people.”
NAS operates across the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia, with a presence at 30 airports, managing more than 31 airport lounges and handling seven of the world’s top 10 airlines. The target is to achieve free movement of people across all African countries by 2030.
Labour mobility for Africa’s development
In addition to the petition, Global Shapers across the African continent are engaging their leaders and policy makers in dialogues about the need to ease mobility on the continent. Through this initiative, African youth will find a platform to voice the reasons why facilitating movement of people across the continent now can fast track the continent’s 2063 Agenda.
On a global scale, Africa’s competitiveness is tied to labor mobility. With the African market set to grow to two billion by 2050, greater integration and human mobility is the need of the hour. Liberal visa policies will help boost tourism revenues, foster new business opportunities and facilitate economic growth. It will also open up new job opportunities to the 60 percent of African youth that is currently unemployed.
The Kigali Global Shapers are part of a global network of 600 hubs under the umbrella of the World Economic Forum. Hubs are developed and led by young people who are exceptional in their potential, achievements and drive to make a contribution to their communities. The community encompasses 7,000 change makers.
Established in 2012 by Founding Curator Diana Mpyisi, the Kigali Hub has now positioned itself as one of the most active and impactful youth-led groups in Rwanda.