Malawi Homeland Security Minister, Ken Zikhałe, announced the removal of visa restrictions for travelers from 79 countries in a gazette notice on Wednesday, amending immigration regulations to facilitate easier entry for tourists and traders.
The countries benefiting from this move include Antigua and Barbuda, Belgium, Australia, Canada, China, Ghana, The Gambia, France, Germany, Jamaica, New Zealand, Russia, Sierra Leone, the United Kingdom, Israel, and the United States of America, and others.
Nationals from the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) are also exempt from visa requirements, excluding countries that impose visa restrictions on Malawian citizens.
Homeland Security Minister Ken Zikhałe highlighted the government’s focus on promoting tourism and trade:
“This monumental decision isn’t just about visas; it’s about unleashing the untapped potential of our beloved Malawi and inviting the world to experience its wonders first-hand.”
The changes also include exemptions for certain groups such as diplomats and government officials, as well as countries with mutual exchange agreements for multiple-entry visas with Malawi.
The new visa regulations extend the validity of multiple-entry visas in Malawi to up to 12 months.
Tourism Minister Vera Kamtukule emphasized the broader impact of the decision, stating,
“It’s about unleashing the untapped potential of our beloved Malawi and inviting the world to experience its wonders first-hand.”
Malawi joins the ranks of Kenya and Rwanda in opening up its doors to African travelers, aligning with a growing trend on the continent.
Recognizing the importance of removing obstacles such as trade tariffs and visa bans, countries in Africa are working towards fostering greater interaction within the continent.
Last month, Ghana announced plans to implement a policy enabling visa-free entry for all African visitors by the end of 2024.
While 48 African countries currently grant visa-free travel to citizens of at least one other African nation, only Seychelles, Gambia, Kenya, Rwanda, and Benin offer complete visa-free entry for all Africans.
Malawi’s decision adds momentum to the ongoing efforts to facilitate easier travel and collaboration within the African continent.