Ghanaians cannot travel to UAE without a visa – for now

An image of a man dressed in traditional Ghanaian clothing holding a golden stick

Visiting the UAE may soon be a visa-free experience for Ghanaians, but last weekend’s celebrations were premature.

On August 5, the Ghanaian parliament ratified an agreement that will remove the visa requirement for its citizens traveling to the oil-rich Arab nation that is a destination of choice for African tourists and businessmen. The waiver will apply to persons holding diplomatic, service and ordinary passports, according to reports. This is a mutual exemption that grants Emirati visitors to Ghana in the same passport categories similar benefits.

The announcement was interpreted to mean that a visa waiver regime was now in effect, prompting clarification from the West African country’s embassy in the United Arab Emirates. “The Embassy urges the public to disregard all of these posts and messages. Even though the agreement has been ratified by the Parliament of Ghana, the processes of its implementation have not been completed, ”said an embassy statement confirmed by Quartz Africa.

The embassy said it would communicate new procedures “when the agreement comes into force.” He postpones the Ghanaian celebration but shows how greedy Africans are for visas that facilitate access to global opportunities.

Powerful passports matter

African passports are among the lowest in the world, in terms of the number of countries their holders can visit without a visa or with a visa on arrival. Seychelles and Mauritius remain the only countries in the top 50 Henley Passport Index, a UK consultancy firm’s tracker of the world’s most powerful passports.

Besides small island nations, South Africa is the only other African country whose passport holders can visit more than 100 countries without a visa. Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is ranked 101st (six spots down from last year) with 46 destinations – 18 fewer than its neighbor, Ghana.

Big money flows from Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Of particular interest are visa-free African travel to the United Arab Emirates. Its main cities – Abu Dhabi but especially Dubai – have been lauded over the past decade in African entertainment as the places to go for leisure, luxury shopping, and destination weddings. The popularity of cities has also had a positive impact on trade balance sheets.

Non-oil trade between the United Arab Emirates and Africa exceeded $ 40 billion in the first nine months of 2020, surpassing 2019 numbers despite a pandemic. Since 2017, the number of Africa-focused companies setting up in Dubai has increased by more than 25% at 21,000, according to the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 6% of all visitors to Dubai in 2019 were Africans, helping to develop trade with Dubai from 3% at the start of the 2010s to 10% in 2018, according to Hamad Buami, president of the city’s chamber of commerce, in an interview with African Business.

Africa-UAE trade was also strong in Abu Dhabi. In May, the Abu Dhabi Export Office (ADEX) signed a $ 30 million agreement that grants loans to importers in eastern and southern Africa. The loans will be made through the East and Southern Africa Trade and Development Bank (TDB), the first such arrangement between the Abu Dhabi Export Finance Organization and a foreign financial institution. .

Dubai offers two visa regimes for most visiting Africans: a short 30-day option and another 90-day option. Both are renewable but the applications cost between $ 90 and $ 460. For now, the most preferred African passports when it comes to travel to the UAE are those of Seychelles and Mauritius which allow visa-free visits of 90 and 30 days respectively, according to Emirates, the airline of the government of Dubai. The hope for Ghanaians is that they will soon join this elite class of African travelers in the UAE once the deal is implemented.

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