Report warns of negative impact on trade due to increase in immigration barriers

Uganda only allows citizens from 20 African countries to enter visa-free while 33 other African nationals were not permitted entry without a visa. Photo / Courtesy 

What you need to know:

  • Data collected between July and August indicates that Uganda’s immigration grade fell from 0.853 to 0.377 with only citizens from 20 African countries allowed to enter visa-free  while 33 other African nationals were not permitted entry without a visa.

The African Development Bank has said increased immigration barriers are likely to derail Uganda’s trade ambitions within East Africa and Africa at large. 

In data prepared by AfDB and African Union Commission it was noted that between 2021 and 2022, Uganda put more immigration restrictions, which do not correspond with its trade ambitions. 

For instance, data collected between July and August indicated that Uganda’s immigration grade fell from 0.853 to 0.377 with only citizens from 20 African countries allowed to enter visa-free  while 33 other African nationals were not permitted entry without a visa.

The data is further compounded by the Africa Visa Openness Index, which traces the extent to which African countries are open to visitors from other African countries that indicates that Uganda moved from eighth position in 2021 to 13 in 2022. 

The backward movement, the index noted, was due to a requirement of visas from 33 nationals contrary to the African Union recommendation that requires that a visa be issued on arrival for visitors across the continent.

The AfDB data also indicates that East African Community member countries still experience notable immigration discrepancies with South Sudan and DR Congo still requiring visas from some of EAC member states.

Mr Akinwumi A. Adesina, the AfDB president, said barriers on movement of people across the continent, especially for workers continue to hurt investment promotion in Africa.  

In Uganda, the President has oftent urged EAC member states to waive both immigration and trade restrictions to foster meaningful trade. 

However, member states continue to block goods coming from within EAC, with Uganda taking the biggest share of blockades. 

For instance, Uganda’s milk, poultry and beef products, among others, have been blocked from entering Kenya while the country continues to find difficulties in accessing markets in Rwanda and Tanzaina for some goods. 

During the launch of the East African Micro, Small and Medium Entreprises Trade fair in Kololo, Kampala recently, President Museveni, said a fragmented East Africa cannot achieve meaningful trade.  

In 2021, the report was produced at a time when Africa and the world were grappling with the impact of policy interventions; including travel restrictions that were aimed to curtail the spread of Covid-19. 

But since the virus has been contained a number of countries on the continent, according to the report, have reversed some restrictions but put others restrictions while  others have introduced mechanisms such as e-visas, which introduce a cost burden on travellers. 

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