At a time when visa openness is dominating diplomatic and social media discussions, news that an African country is imposing visa requirements for another is a setback however one looks at it.
That is what seems to be the case between Tanzania and Nigeria. A travel blogger tweeted on Tuesday that Nigerians no longer enjoyed visa-on-arrival arrangement with Tanzania.
Funmi Oyatogun said in a tweet that the seemingly unofficial stance by Dar es Salaam is said to have affected Nigeria, Mali, Niger, Somalia amongst others.
Her tweet said: “I just spoke to the immigration authorities in Tanzania and confirmed that the visa on arrival policy no longer applies to Nigerians and a bunch of others (Mali, Niger, Yemen, Somalia, etc). Now, we have to apply in advance at the embassy or have a Tanzanian apply on our behalf.”
“We would really appreciate it if either the govt of Nigeria or Tanzania could confirm this new development. I spoke to an immigration officer in Dar es Salaam but we deserve an official release to confirm, deny or possibly amend this new policy,” a follow-up tweet added.
The BBC Pidgin service also confirmed that someone they had spoken to confirmed the development. They added that the Tanzanian embassy in Nigeria had yet to respond to request for clarification.
The development thrusts the issue of visa openness into focus with reports indicating that intra-Africa travel was increasingly becoming more difficult for Africans even than for foreigners.
Ethiopia became the latest to offer visa-on-arrival for all Africans, President Mulatu Teshome told parliament that Addis Ababa was due to roll out the move soon. Seychelles and Rwanda are leaders in that area.
The issue of national security and other economic considerations have been at the center of the visa hurdles. Records indicate that travel within subregions were also relatively easy as compared to moving between regions.
A Ghanaian seeking to enter Congo has to travel to either Togo or Ivory Coast to secure a visa even though the country has an embassy in Brazzaville, capital of Congo Republic.
The cost of travel between African countries has also been termed, prohibitively expensive. There are very few flights that connect African cities – at a point traveling to Europe costs same or even less than between two African capital in the same region.
The African Union, AU, however, remains upbeat about the open borders regime that forms a key plank of the Agenda 2063. The AU passport launched in 2016 was a key step but progress since then has been all but lacklustre.