Nairobi office space

Otto de Vries: ASATA CEO

Did you know that over 50% of African citizens still need visas to visit their African neighbours?

Only 24% of African travellers can get visas on arrival when travelling on the continent, and only 22% don’t require visas at all, according to the African Development Bank’s Visa Openness Index.

As the growth in the economies of several African countries begin to outpace those globally, now is the time for companies to look beyond their borders and explore opportunities that strengthen the African continent.

Numerous barriers have stood in the way of corporates tapping the vast opportunities Africa has to offer. Not only do goods originating within Africa attract crippling import tariffs and permits, but visa policies have been prohibitive and protectionism has made air travel on the continent expensive and challenging.

All this is about to change as 44 African countries recently signed the African Continental Free Trade Area, with a further 50 countries signing a declaration underscoring their commitment to the free trade area.

The agreement has the potential to boost intra- African trade by 52.3% by eliminating import duties, and to even double this trade if non-tariff barriers are also reduced.

What’s more is that 27 countries signed the African Union Protocol on Free Movement of People, which would mean visa-free travel, the right of residency and the right of business or professional establishment for citizens between signatory countries within the next six months.

It’s exciting news for a continent whose population is expected to double by 2050. Fostering the entrepreneurial talent in such a significant number of young people will undoubtedly support Africa’s vision to create healthy economies and create jobs.

Business travel is a catalyst for that economic growth and is integral to the investments, logistics and supply chains that would support this regional trade flow. With improved air access and more liberal visa policies, we can expect higher levels of investment, a promotion of business and fresh skills across the continent.

So, get ready to explore the possibility of an office space in Lagos or Nairobi, and be the first in line to contribute to the growth of an integrated Africa.