Former President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana in 2016, welcomed all Africans with open arms into the country through a Visa-free entry policy. During Ghana’s 59th independence anniversary; stressing on African unity, President Mahama announced that citizens from all African Union member states will be offered Visa on arrival when visiting the country.
During his address, the then president said that from July 2016, citizens of AU member states will be allowed to enter the country and obtain visas on arrival with the option to stay for up to 30 days. The new policy, he said, was for the purpose of opening Ghana to the world by stimulating tourism, travel, trade, and investment.
Ghana currently allows free entry without visas to only 15 countries, most of them being members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Mahama’s Statement was Initially Misinterpreted
The statement by the former president of Ghana had sparked controversy as some citizens of the West African region misinterpreted it. Leading the antagonistic side were Nigerian citizens who went haywire over a distorted idea of having to get visas to enter Ghana. An understandable turn out of events we’ll say, bearing in mind the bad blood that existed between the two countries in the past (Ghana must Go / Nigeria must Go era).
But the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time, Hannah Tetteh came out to lay more emphasis on Mahama’s statement.
In her statement, Hannah Tetteh said that the visa policy did not apply to ECOWAS member states which included Nigeria. This was as per the provisions of ECOWAS protocol which ensures free movement within member states.
The ECOWAS protocol came into existence in May 1979 after it was approved by the body’s heads of state and the government. The policy was approved with the motive of regional integration in the West African region. Regional integration in this sense would have the advantage of effecting the collective development of social, economic and cultural activities within the sub-region.
Visa on Arrival
Visa on arrival is inherently rare among African countries. Reports have shown that it is easier for a wielder of an American passport to travel to African states than for Africans. This no doubt poses a limit to interstate trade and relations among African state members. Seychelles is the only African country with open Visa access to member states of the African Union.
The new visa on arrival policy to be implemented by Ghana was influenced by an agreement adopted at the AU Executive Council meeting which held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The resolution required that all African Union (AU) member states reviewed their internal and external security realities in an attempt to implement mechanisms allowing for the issuing of visas on arrival for their citizens, with the possibility of a 30-day stay.
Visa on Arrival Implementation
The media has not confirmed the implementation of the no-visa entry policy promised by the former president of Ghana in 2016. Effecting this policy would mean a giant step taken towards uniting the continent in solidarity with Pan-Africanism.
We sincerely hope that Ghana’s decision, when implemented, will be the real beginning of Pan Africanism, as other African states would be expected to follow suit to achieve One Africa.
Granting visas on arrival will also mean more allies, as well as increased partnership and trust between African countries.
Visa Free Countries For Ghanaians
Just as Ghana is trying to accommodate other African countries, some countries in Africa are also doing the same. The Ghanaian passport is accepted in over 40 countries in the African continent. Reports have it that Ghana’s international passport is one of the most respected in Africa, ranking 73 on the Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index.
Some of these countries include Bangladesh, where a Ghanaian can spend 90 days without a visa. There is also Barbados a country in North America. Here a Ghanaian can stay for up to 6 months without a visa.
To mention a few, other countries where Ghanaians can travel without visas include;
Cape Verde – 180 days
Benin – 90 days
Burkina Faso – only a valid passport is needed from a Ghanaian in this country to ensure a stay.
Dominica -180 days This island republic in North America allows for a Ghanaian to stay in the country for 6 months without a visa. However, the Ghanaian citizen must present a valid passport on arrival.