Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, has hinted that African travellers may no longer be required to obtain visas to enter the country from next year.
Onyeama made this at the Town Hall meeting held in Abuja, while shedding light on the foreign policy outlook of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
He said the visa free idea was in tandem with the African Union (AU) which this year announced plan of a single passport and a visa free travel for all African citizens within the continent by 2020.
The proposal is to boost integration in addition to enabling free movement of people and goods.
Presently, Nigerians don’t require visas to travel within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) but still encounter tough visa conditions imposed by other African countries in other regions.
According to Onyeama, the policy will enlarge economic space for Nigerian people as 10 per cent of the trading is only among African countries, who mainly prefer formal trading with nations outside the continent.
“We are firmly in support of the African single passport and the proposed Free Trade Area in the continent from next year, which will enable Nigerian manufacturers and entrepreneur to have a larger market for their produce. Nigeria wants to extend the free movement of people across the continent beyond the ECOWAS as unrestricted movement of people will promote trade,’’ he said.
According to him, government intends to promote economic development in the country by attracting foreign direct investments in addition to promoting export and market access for Nigerian business men.