What Rwanda expects from new visa-free regime

On 31 January 2020 at 04:40

President Kagame recently announced that Rwanda would soon adopt a visa-free regime for countries in the Commonwealth, the African Union and member countries of La Francophonie to ease the movement of people and goods. He stated it during his address at King’s College in London where he had attended the UK-Africa Investment Summit 2020.

Normally, anyone who wants to visit Rwanda pays Rwf 50,000 to acquire a visa.

Rwanda anticipates the new regime to be an advantage as it will double the number of visitors.

The decision was taken a few months after the directorate general of immigration and emigration announced that citizens of all countries were eligible for a 30 days visa upon arrival without prior application.

The visa-free regime might appear as an abrupt and disadvantageous decision since countries from the aforementioned communities make only ½ of the total number of visitors to Rwanda.

Clare Akamanzi, Rwanda Development Board (RDB) Chief Executive Officer explained that the revenues the country received from visa fees are nothing compared to the opportunities that will be opened with the visa-free regime.

“We only receive Rwf 4 billion per year from visa fees but with the visa-free regime, our revenues will be incomparable. If a citizen from the AU, Commonwealth or Francophonie pays to say $50 to enter country and zero fees on visa, we anticipate that he will spend at least $300 inside the country and that is only a modest estimation.”

The visa-free regime is also in line with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which will be held in Rwanda from the 22nd to the 27th of June, 2020.
During the annual diplomats’ luncheon on January 29th, 2020, President Kagame stated that the visa-free regime would apply to many more countries in the future.

“Our aim is to make travels to Rwanda as easy as possible and we plan to remove visa requirements for members of the AU, Commonwealth and La Francophonie. In the future, we will also think about applying the same regime to many other countries because we want to promote our tourism sector in every possible way.”

News about the visa-free regime sparked enthusiasm from foreigners who say it is a thoughtful step to promoting international trade.

Margret, a French citizen said “I think it is a great idea because so many people wish to travel to Rwanda but are restricted by visa application and fees.”

Ahmed, an Egyptian citizen said “It is a sign that everyone is welcome to Rwanda and I can only hope other countries can take example on this initiative and allow visa-free travels.”

In 2018, Rwanda received an estimated 1.7 million tourists and 1.6 million tourists in 2019.

Rwanda anticipates the new regime to be an advantage as it will double the number of visitors.