By Prince Kurupati
News reports coming out of Ethiopia suggest that the country may soon be issuing visa on arrival for all African nationals who wish to travel to this east African country replacing the conventional visas i.e. visas issued before one lands in a foreign country.
According to several news outlets including Inside Travel, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed while speaking to the media after his meeting with the Rwandan leader in Addis Ababa said that Ethiopia is planning on following in Rwanda’s footsteps by scrapping conventional visas and replacing them with visa on arrival.
The fact that Prime Minister Ahmed said this development will be implemented “very soon” suggests that it’s imminent before Africans can travel to Ethiopia without going through the hassles of applying for a visa before their travels.
Prime Minister Ahmed said these remarks soon after his first meeting with the visiting Rwandan leader, Paul Kagame. Paul Kagame is on a 3-day official visit in Ethiopia.
While announcing Ethiopia’s plans to scrap visas for all African nationals, Prime Minister Ahmed refused to go into detail on how his government is going to implement this proposal but made it clear that all the citizens of all the 54 African countries will be eligible to visit Ethiopia using the visa on arrival system.
Other areas that the two leaders discussed and made a commitment to strengthen on include air services and defence.
The move if finalised will help push forward the Ethiopian brand and will make it much easier for other African companies and business people to connect with businesses in Ethiopia while at the same time it will help in promoting intra-African tourism.
The move is in line with the African Union’s Vision 2063 which stipulates that African countries need to “implement mechanisms allowing for the issuing of visas on arrival for citizens of Member States, with the possibility of a 30-day stay.” Rwanda is already issuing visas on arrival to all African nationals while Namibia has also taken the same path.
Currently, anyone planning on travelling to Ethiopia will have to obtain a visa before travelling at any of Ethiopia’s diplomatic missions with the exception of those who live in visa exempt countries.
As of now, only the citizens of Djibouti and Kenya do not require visas when travelling to Ethiopia. Citizens of Djibouti can spend a maximum of 3 months in Ethiopia without a visa while citizens of Kenya can spend a maximum of one year in Kenya without a visa. If the stipulated (3 months or one year period) elapses, the citizens do have the opportunity to approach the Ethiopian authorities if they want to extend their stay or they can return to their mother countries.
There is a visa waiver for anyone who holds a diplomatic or service passport with the exception of citizens from Pakistan, Somalia and Eritrea. This waiver lasts for three months.
Travellers in transit regardless of nationality can pass through Ethiopia without a visa by air if they depart within 12 hours or remain within the permitted transit area.