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Pan-Africanism Alive In Rwanda, As Visa Requirements Eased For All Africans

Welcome brothers!
Welcome brothers!
Fanny Kaneza

KIGALI- Beginning in January, every African visitor to Rwanda will be granted his or her visa upon arrival in the country from any border post. This “on-the-spot” visa process, according to Ange Sebutege, communications officer at the Rwandan Immigration Services, is designed to bring in more Africans tourists.

Until now, visitors had to fill out an online form before they could obtain a visa to enter the country. "To fill a visa application online proved extremely hard for many African applicants, as a vast majority of them do not have access to the Internet, or do not know how to use it," explains Anaclet Kalibata, director of the Immigration Department of Rwanda. “Those who want to continue to apply online will still be able to do so.”

Though the government is maintaing the $30 cost for most three-month tourist and for 30-day business visas, they will be free for citizens from neighboring countries from the East African Community and the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries, as well as for those with passports from the U.S., Germany, UK, Singapore, and Sweden.

"Pan-Africanism is a movement that strives toward the fulfillment of all Africans in Africa. There is no use for borders in Africa," says Sebutege.

Other countries should follow Rwanda’s path, says a Kigali resident: "A lot of people do not travel because applying for a visa is a complicated issue. They don’t know where the embassies are -- or consulates are far from where they live. When we open the doors to everyone, everybody wins."

Looking for new tourists

For Kalibata, Rwanda’s new visa policy is auspicious: "The massive inflow of foreign nationals will help develop the tourist industry and local businesses." The annual turnover of the Rwandan tourism sector is $200 million. A large part of this money comes from non-African foreign tourists, but their numbers have started to decrease, according to a local tourist guide.

"The economic crisis in Europe has forced Rwandan authorities to start looking for new opportunities to attract African visitors," notes an economist from Kigali. In 2011, the country welcomed nearly 405,000 visitors – 20% of whom were Africans.

Not everybody is enthusiastic about the new visa measures for African visitors. "Those who have planed their trip and are denied a visa at the border will have to go home – what a waste of time and money!" says a Human Right Activist from Kigali. "Imagine a Senegalese or Algerian visitor being denied a visa at the Rwandan border."

Ange Sebutege admits that "the facilitated visa process does not necessarily guarantees a visa. Entry will be denied to visitors who do not meet the immigration requirements."

Admitedly, some Rwandans also fear for their safety. “With massive tourist influxes, border controls will be more relaxed, letting in potential criminals and terrorists," worries Alphonse from Kigali. "Making it easier to obtain a visa is one thing – but reinforcing border controls is crucial."

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Will Winter Crack The Western Alliance In Ukraine?

Kyiv's troops are facing bitter cold and snow on the frontline, but the coming season also poses longer term political questions for Ukraine's allies. It may be now or never.

Ukraine soldier in winer firing a large canon with snow falling

Ukraine soldier firing a large cannon in winter.

Pierre Haski


PARIS — Weather is a weapon of war. And one place where that’s undoubtedly true right now is Ukraine. A record cold wave has gripped the country in recent days, with violent winds in the south that have cut off electricity of areas under both Russian and Ukrainian control. It's a nightmare for troops on the frontline, and survival itself is at stake, with supplies and movement cut off.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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This is the reality of winter warfare in this part of Europe, and important in both tactical and strategic terms. What Ukraine fears most in these circumstances are Russian missile or drone attacks on energy infrastructures, designed to plunge civilian populations into cold and darkness.

The Ukrainian General Staff took advantage of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg's visit to Kyiv to ask the West to provide as many air defense systems as possible to protect these vital infrastructures. According to Kyiv, 90% of Russian missile launches are intercepted; but Ukraine claims that Moscow has received new weapon deliveries from North Korea and Iran, and has large amounts of stocks to strike Ukraine in the coming weeks.

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