Rwanda is considering scrapping visa fees for citizens of the Commonwealth, as well as the African Union and La Francophonie member countries, President Paul Kagame has announced.
President Paul Kagame made the announcement yesterday at the International School for Government at King’s College in London, while speaking about Rwanda’s transformation journey.
The conversation was moderated by Alexander Downer, the Executive Chair of the institution. The President emphasised Rwanda’s commitment to trade with the rest of the world.
“…We are soon considering exempting citizens of the Commonwealth, as well as the African Union and the Francophonie, from paying visa fees when entering Rwanda,” he said.
The move is expected to ease access to Rwanda for a significant section of the international community.
Commonwealth has 53 members while Francophonie has 54 member states across the world.
To date, only 17 African countries were exempt from paying visa fees.
The tally of African countries, Commonwealth member states and La Francophonie comes to about 95 countries set to benefit from the move.
This, development experts say, will among other things increase chances of Rwanda hosting global summits due to ease of access, among other benefits.
The development could also see Rwandans easily access countries from across the in the event of reciprocity by beneficiary countries.
Kagame who was in the UK for the UK-Africa Summit said that there is a positive momentum in terms of the relationship between the United Kingdom and Africa, including Rwanda.
“The timing is good. Britain is looking to re-imagine its global trade and investment arrangements. And later this year, the world’s largest new free trade area will become operational in Africa, covering nearly the entire continent,” he said.
The Head of State said that the operationalisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which takes effect in July this year is proof to investors that there is will in Africa to deepen regional integration.
“African Continental Free Trade Area demonstrates to investors that there is solid political will in Africa for a deeper regional integration agenda. We have good reason to take advantage of these developments and work more closely together,” he said.
With Rwanda set to host the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in June this year, Kagame defined the body as a community of values with continued relevance for the world.
“The Commonwealth is a community of values, with continued relevance for today’s world. More than one-third of its member states are African. These are the reasons why Rwanda chose to join (the bloc) in 2009,” Kagame said.
Speaking on the factors that propelled Rwanda’s transformation over the years, Kagame said that the country has been informed by three mindset issues of urgency, unity and self-reliance.
“The undeniable progress we have seen in Rwanda is the result of applying these principles to the challenges we faced. The most important part was for citizens themselves to be part of the process ensuring that they benefit from public policy,” he said