Visa Free Africa And Extractive Governance

National Coordinator of Liberia's EITI, Jeffery Yates

By Jeffery Yates

The Visa-free idea widely discussed and implemented by a few countries on the Continent of Africa is generally reasonable. When conspicuously done, it helps to increase revenue generation, fosters International relations, signifies a devotion to openness and inclusivity, and positions a country as a leader.

However, not all African countries should move with implementing it now. Countries with fewer or no major tourist attractions, low business climates, rich natural resources, poor health systems, and poor security systems should critically examine this decision.

Specifically, countries with poor natural resources governance structures remain exposed to such a decision. Currently, many countries on the continent are experiencing significant loss of domestic revenues due to illicit activities in the extractive sector. Many resource-rich nations struggle to mitigate the enormous illegal sales of minerals and other extractive products to individuals who aren’t legally registered or hold a valid license to conduct business in the industry. These illicit activities are hampering growth and development on the continent and reducing overall GDP. Anecdotal evidence points out that illegal industry players contribute significantly to the amount the continent loses yearly to illicit financial flows.

Hence, opening up a country is an excellent idea, but policymakers should look beyond the surface of this decision. Vulnerable countries should think twice, as they could lose more if care isn’t taken. A comprehensive cost-benefit and SWOT analysis should be carried out.


Jeffery Yates is the National Coordinator of Liberia’s EITI, and Chairperson, National Integrity Forum of Liberia.

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