Today in #BorderlessAfrica Visa Wahala Stories, we feature the story by Larry Madowo, CNN International correspondent. He writes;

“Nigeria just charged me $215 for a 1-month, single entry visa. Again. I was here 3 weeks ago – paid the same $215. This is actually my 3rd time in Nigeria this year, so they have made $645 from me in 2024 alone.

The visa itself costs $25 but Nigeria charges a $20 “processing fee” and $170 for biometrics every time. My fingerprints haven’t changed since I was here 3 weeks ago, why am I paying $170 to have them taken and to pose for a picture each time I visit? Isn’t that a standard part of admitting someone into a country?

How can we achieve about a borderless Africa, or the promise of the AfCFTA, if we charge Africans $215 for a single-entry visa?

In the 3 weeks since I was last in Lagos, I went to Uganda, South Africa and Ghana where I don’t need a visa with a Kenyan passport. In fact, I’ve also been to South Africa 3 times this year. It cost me $0, like the ancestors intended.

Nigeria’s visa-on-arrival system is similar to the “visa-free” delusion of Kenya’s Electronic Travel Authorization – you apply in advance, submit some documents and wait for it to be approved. It can take up to 5 business days. If you know “someone,” you can pay them $50 or more to “facilitate” a faster approval.

I love Nigeria, but the visa situation is showing me shege. It’s too much oo! Why this Shege Pro Max?”

PS: This is why we say #BorderlessAfrica. Why should an Africa suffer like this and pay this much just to visit his own continent of Africa? Join the #BorderlessAfrica campaign. Sign the petition bit.ly/borderlesspetition

We, African people both at home and in the diaspora;

aware of the history of colonial borders; rooted in historical cooperation and partnership across the African continent; recognising the need for and power of a united Africa underpinned by shared growth; noting the immense benefits to be derived from free movement of persons in Africa; recalling the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community Relating to Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment adopted by the African Union in 2018;

hereby come together to ignite the shared vision of a united, just, peaceful and dignified Africa by canvassing the collective will of the African people to realise our common desire for freedom of movement.

We decry the spectre of African people including women being frequently harassed at the borders between African countries in their quest to do legitimate trade with fellow Africans or move between the countries. When borders are closed, it pushes people, particularly young people to the vagaries of irregular migration. There is a need to enhance legal and organised migration in order to stem the vulnerabilities faced, particularly by women and youth. African travelers face a myriad of obstacles from poor infrastructure to restrictive visa requirements. Visa requirements for most Africans traveling within the continent is, perhaps, the single most restrictive barrier to travel abroad. It is not uncommon for people with European, American or Asian passports to be granted visas upon entry and Africans traveling with them to be denied entry.

Meanwhile, free movement is recognised as one of the biggest catalysts for Africa’s economic development as it would accelerate trade, job creation, cross-border infrastructure and cultural cohesion. Realising this, the African Union adopted at its 30th Ordinary Session in January 2018 the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community Relating to Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment, which if enforced will abolish visas and other restrictions on intra-African travel. However, only four (4) countries have yet ratified it while it requires fifteen (15) ratifications to come into force.

With this petition, we demand that African governments:

1. Sign, ratify and implement the provisions of the AU Protocol on Free Movement: 

– We recognise and commend the four African states that have signed, ratified and deposited the AU protocol on free movement. These are Mali, Niger, Rwanda and Sao Tome and Principe. 

– We encourage the African States that have signed the protocol but are yet to ratify to do so with urgency. These are Angola, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’ivoire, Comoros, Congo, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho,Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zimbabwe. 

– We call upon and urge the leadership of the African States that haven’t signed the AU protocol to fast track the process and take the necessary steps to actualise the free movement of our people. These include Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea Bissau, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Eswatini, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Seychelles, Tunisia and Zambia. 

2. Begin the process of rolling out the African passport to all African people including in the diaspora

3. Create an enabling environment by embracing more relaxed immigration policies and regimes for Africans in their territories;

4. Dialogue honestly and openly with various national and multilateral stakeholders regarding their security concerns, and implement only necessary measures drawing from best practice examples; including compassionate refugee laws making sure to treat our brothers and sisters seeking refugee humanely

5. Adhere to their commitments under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and guarantee the protection of Africans of other nationalities living or travelling within their territories, especially against actions triggered by deep-seated discrimination and xenophobia;

6. Take all measures to stem the vulnerabilities and dangers of human movement, faced by Africans in countries of origin, transit and destination, as well as upon return, paying specific attention to the vulnerabilities faced by women and youth including human trafficking and sexual exploitation and abuse; including provision of comprehensive gender-sensitive and rights-based policies, and assistance and response mechanisms