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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

African Union and African Development Bank commend
African countries for becoming more open to each other

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the African Union (AU) on Wednesday commended African countries as they are becoming more open to each other.

Reiterating that still more works to be done, the two pan-African institutions have hailed the achievements in the year 2018 as "a landmark chapter in Africa’s regional integration efforts."

Findings of the 3rd edition of the Africa Visa Openness Index Report 2018 published by the AfDB and the AU indicated that on average, African countries are becoming more open to each other, according to an AU statement on Wednesday.

The launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area and the Single African Air Transport Market are major milestones in the creation of a regulatory environment that promotes air connectivity and makes it faster, less expensive and easier for Africans to travel within Africa, the report notes.

The top 20 most visa-open countries continue to improve their average score, reflecting the countries’ more liberal visa policies.

In addition, 43 countries improved or maintained their score.

Benin made the most progress in opening up its borders to African travelers, moving from 27th place in the 2017 edition to 1st place in the 2018 report.

Zimbabwe also broke into the top 20 with the introduction of a visa-on-arrival policy for SADC (Southern Africa Development Community) members.

Overall, when compared to 2017, Africans do not need a visa to travel to 25 percent of other African countries (up from 22 percent); can get visas on arrival in 24 percent of other African countries (same as last year); and need visas to travel to 51 percent of other African countries (down from 54 percent).

"Regional integration and trade based upon the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital is at the core of the business of the African Development Bank," Akinwumi A. Adesina, the AfDB Group President, noted.

However, the president underlined the fact that Africans still require visas to travel to just over half of other African countries shows that more progress is needed to realize free movement of people continent-wide.

"As infrastructure expands across Africa, and tangible trade and investment opportunities are put on the table, Africans will need to travel with greater ease.

Solutions such as the African passport, visa-free regional blocs, multi-year visas, or visa-on-arrival schemes should continue to be promoted."

"Looking at the recent development this year, such as the announcement by Ethiopia, Africa’s diplomatic capital, on the establishment of a visa-on-arrival regime for all African passport holders, Africa is indeed on an upward trajectory towards seamless borders and the free movement of its people.

Commendable work has also gone into the actual roll-out of the African passport to the citizenry," Kwesi Quartey, Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission, said.

The Visa Openness Index assesses the progress African countries have realized in relaxing their visa regimes.

The report aims to show at a glance which countries are facilitating travel for citizens of other African countries and how; whether they allow people to travel to their country without a visa; if travelers can get a visa on arrival in the country; or if visitors need to get a visa before travel, according to the African Union (AU).
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EARLIER REPORTS:

Lifting of sanctions on Eritrea helping contribute to
development in Horn of Africa: Rwandan President

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Rwandan President and current chairperson of the African Union (AU), Paul Kagame, on Saturday hailed the lifting by the UN Security Council of the sanctions against Eritrea.

Kagame made the remarks at the opening of the 11th AU extraordinary summit at the headquarters of the Union in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

The United Nations Security Council last Wednesday adopted a resolution lifting the sanctions imposed on the Horn of African nation since December 2009.

This action will contribute to the ongoing process of normalization in the Horn of Africa sub-region, Kagame has noted.

He has also commended Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia and President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea for their courageous actions and others for working with the two leaders.

Following the decision of lifting the sanctions, different institutions in Africa, including the AU and the East African bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), have hailed the adoption.

The decision is a further step towards the consolidation of the recent positive developments in the Horn of Africa, marked by an improvement of bilateral relations between the countries of the region, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said in a statement on Thursday.

Meanwhile, welcoming the decision, IGAD executive secretary Mahboub Maalim on Friday lauded regional leaders in general, and Eritrea in particular for all the efforts that helped UNSC to lift the sanctions.

Maalim said the historic normalization of the relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea is going to have a very positive ramification in the region in terms of cooperation and also towards peace, security and stability.
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East Africa bloc hails lifting of sanctions on Eritrea

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- East African bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), on Friday welcomed the decision by the UN Security Council (UNSC) to lift the arms embargo and targeted sanctions imposed on Eritrea nine years ago.

IGAD executive secretary Mahboub Maalim also lauded regional leaders in general, and Eritrea in particular for all the efforts that helped UNSC to lift the sanctions.

Maalim said the historic normalization of the relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea is going to have a very positive ramification in the region in terms of cooperation and also towards peace, security and stability.

"The cooperation agreement between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia and the initiatives to finalize the pending issues between Eritrea and Djibouti are the key achievements marking genuine political commitment for regional integration," he said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

Maalim expressed the bloc’s commitment to implement its member states’ decisions to further strengthen the implementation of jointly agreed policies, strategies and programs.

The UN Security Council on Wednesday voted unanimously to lift sanctions against Eritrea following its good relations with Ethiopia and other neighboring countries.

The UN Security Council imposed sanctions against Eritrea in 2009 for an alleged tie with Somali extremist group al-Shabab, which Eritrea has repeatedly denied. A UN investigation team issued a report in June 2016 declaring there was no conclusive evidence to punish Eritrea for alleged ties with Somalia’s al-Shabab militants.

The sanctions were primarily economic and included a travel ban and asset freeze on certain people and entities.

             

 

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