Commentators say it will boost cooperation amongst Africans
From Joseph Ojumu, Accra
The West African nation of Ghana has been lauded for its visa-on-arrival scheme for Africans which took off this week in the country.
Among other benefits, commentators say that the scheme would not only give teeth to the long-drawn clamour for African unity and integration, but that it would also have a significant impact on the fortunes of the Ghanaian economy.
One such upbeat commentator is the Nigeria-born publisher, Dele Momodu. In his comment on the new policy, he observes that it is indeed a restatement of his conviction on the pan-Africanist credentials of incumbent Ghanaian President, John Dramani Mahama.
‘How can we have an African Union that lacks simple cohesion amongst itself? We must salute the vision of President John Dramani Mahama for pushing such a laudable agenda in this age of global xenophobia epitomised by the Brexit campaign in Great Britain and the emergence of the openly racist and bigoted phenomenon that is Donald Trump in the USA. In this regard, President Mahama has demonstrated an uncommon courage by breaking down one of the walls of superstitions that have divided us for far too long.
‘Just imagine what Ghana stands to gain by throwing its door open to all African countries. Firstly, tourism will definitely enjoy an unprecedented upsurge. The visionary President of Ghana is not just waiting for this upsurge in tourism he has gone a step further by creating the necessary infrastructural support that would cater for them. This is starting from the airport which is being upgraded not just in terms of bricks and mortar but also by the deployment of state of the art equipment guaranteed to create a first and lasting impression on the western tourist that has been greatly misinformed about the backwardness of the African man. You are first greeted by a screening point which employs computer and laser technology to check your temperature against fevers that may portend that the passenger may be harbouring some deadly disease. Then you proceed to E-gates where your passport is quickly scanned and your details registered electronically. That is not all. On leaving the immigration side you are greeted by several porters ready and willing to assist with trolleys for which you do not have to pay one cedi. The free trolleys are everywhere and in essence you are spoilt for choice. Then comes the icing on the cake in terms of your airport experience. Cool air form strategically and aesthetically placed airconditioners cool and calm you down as you await the prompt and seamless delivery of your luggage from carousels which function properly and whose numbers have been increased to cope with the anticipated increase in the number of tourists and other visitors. As if that is not enough, as a transit passenger you do not have to exit the immigration hall before proceeding to your next flight thus making your trip to even other vistas a seamless one.
Secondly, the visa on arrival scheme will ensure that potential investors would be able to come in at the shortest notice and without much ado. The scheme is therefore such a brilliant move that should be advocated and emulated by others.’
It remains to be seen how soon other African states would take up the Ghana challenge.