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Kenya has dropped 17 places to rank at position 28 in the annual Africa Visa Openness Index released by the African Development Bank (AfDB) in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC).

The index, whose first issue was released in 2016 and covers 54 countries, is used to measure how easy it is easy for persons to travel within the continent.

According to AfDB, travel bans enforced by the government in a bid to tame cases of new COVID-19 infections, greatly contributed to Kenya’s position in the ranking. In 2020, Kenya was ranked position 11 on the list.

The rescinding of the no VISA-on-arrival policy, introduced by President Uhuru Kenyatta in November 2017 also affected Kenya’s ranking.

“For the first time since the AVOI was launched in 2016, many countries backslid on their AVOI ranking over the year. For example, only nine countries offered visa-free access or a visa on arrival to all African visitors in 2021, down from 11 countries in 2020,” the publishers of the index wrote.

“Just under half of the continent’s countries – five percent fewer than in 2020 — offered visa-free access or a visa upon arrival to the citizens of at least one other African country. More Africans than before must now obtain a visa before travelling.”

The report, based on data collected between June and July 2021, named Seychelles, Benin and Ghana as the most VISA open countries on the continent.

Neighbours Rwanda and Uganda came in at position six and eight respectively while Somalia, Tanzania and Seychelles also made the top 20 list.

South Sudan, Guinea and Djibouti were the worst ranked countries in the list coming in at position 52.

The report however stated that travel restrictions across the continent are expected to ease once the pandemic is contained owing to various efforts by different states.

The AU similarly reckons that once the protocol advocating for free movement of persons in Africa is enforced travel across the continent will be much easier.

Enforcement of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) and the African Continental Free Trade Area will also enable more intra-African flights…

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