South Africa’s Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi, says his country needs to do more “homework” before adding Nigeria, India, and China to its list of countries that can visit the country visa-free.
The list of countries released by the department was obtained from the Home Affairs’ Twitter handle.
The following countries will now be able to enter South Africa, visa-free: Qatar, United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Ghana, and Sao Tome and Principe.
“Out of the 193 countries that are member states of the United Nations, the Department has granted visa-free status to 75 countries. Of these 16 are in our continent and are SADC members and 59 are from all over the world.
“Tourism will soar if we relax visa requirements for entry into South Africa. We know that Tourism is very important for job creation,” BusinessTech Africa quoted Motsoaledi to have said.
The minister said his office would immediately enter into discussions with the countries about how a visa-free regime will work, with “homework” still needing to be done for countries like China, India, and Nigeria.
“While we are busy tackling the matter of the three countries, we shall this financial year increase two and a half times the number of people who work for Home Affairs to process visas in both China and India. We shall double the number of people who process visas to our country in Nigeria,” BusinessTech of South Africa quoted him to have said.
Speaking to BusinessTech a department spokesperson said that the countries announced by the minister only apply to inbound visas (citizens from the listed countries visiting South Africa) and that outbound visas (South Africans visiting the countries listed) need to be negotiated on a country-by-country basis.
The department noted that some countries, such as Qatar and Ghana, already have visa-free or visa on arrival agreements with South Africa.
According to the latest Henley Passport Index, South Africans can visit 99 countries around the globe visa-free.
Also speaking at the department’s budget vote, deputy minister of Home Affairs, Njabulo Nzuza said that the department is moving forward with the implementation of the country’s e-Visa regime.
“This regime will place technology at the centre of our operations by making it easy, yet secure, to enter South Africa,” he said.
The e-Visa system will allow tourists and visitors to South Africa to apply for their visas online. These applications will then be sent to a central adjudication and approval office, while the prospective visitors “sit at the comfort of their own home”.
The new system will also open South Africa as a desirable destination through the ease of its visa systems, the deputy minister said, adding that it will have huge tourism growth implications for the country.
The e-Visa regime is anticipated to be fully introduced in November 2019.