Southern Africa is currently testing the unique KAZA UniVisa, a multiple-entry tourist visafor Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and Angola. While it is named after the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area which encompasses these countries, it is only being pilot-tested in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana at the moment. But Mozambique could become a recipient of the UniVisa concept too!
This brainwave has been in operation since December 2014 and the thinking behind this stamp of approval is to make travel between these countries easier and to boost tourism in the region. Later on, it may extend into the other KAZA countries, if all goes according to plan.
So, if you are a traveller who wants to explore the wildlife in Botswana for a few days, and then cross over into Zimbabwe to see Victoria Falls and then into Zambia to buy curios in Livingstone, this UniVisa will suit your needs.
The cherry on top is that it saves you plenty of money! It is amusing to think that the UniVisa only costs you a once-off US$50 and lasts 30 days across the three countries, while the entire concept has been bankrolled by the World Bank to the tune of US$800 000!
Once the 6-month testing phase is completed, the ingenious UniVisa should be extended into Angola and Namibia. And, in future, there is talk of a single visa for all Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries – which would make business travel and trade much easier between the African countries of the south. Some governments are concerned about safety and security issues, including increased movement of illegal immigrants, but it appears that the SADC states are still discussing the pros and cons of such a visa.
The UniVisa is very useful for travellers in that it allows you to cross between Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana as many times as you want in that 30-day time frame. The idea came about when the governments of both Zimbabwe and Zambia set out to improve the lives of their citizens and to try an “open border”policy which was used in 2013 when they co-hosted the United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly. It seems that many citizens get across the borders anyway, without using border posts!
Which ports of entry require a UniVisa?
Zambia – KK International Airport, Harry Mwaanga International Airport, Victoria Falls Border, Kazangula Border
Zimbabwe – Harare International Airport, Victoria Falls International Airport, Victoria Falls Border, Kazangula Border
There is only entry into Botswana at Kazangula Border.
Who can get the UniVisa?
People who are resident in these 40 countries can get the visa at the aforementioned border posts:
- Britain (UK)
- Cook Islands
- Czech Republic
- New Zealand
- Puerto Rico
- Slovakia Republic
- Slovenia Republic
Other Visas in Africa:
Most Africans need visas for 55% of African countries, except citizens from The Gambia, Cote d’Ívoire and Kenya who only need Visas for 41% of African countries. It is believed that this affects economic development negatively and makes it more expensive to do business in Africa. Informal traders, for example, would need to spend their entire salary just to get a visa into another African country. There are also work permit concerns which do not allow some companies to more their staff through Africa to carry out work goals.
East and West Africa, however, could teach southern Africa a thing or two: in West Africa, the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) has a passport that allows these citizens to move through certain countries and in East Africa, citizens use identity cards or driving licences to move through the borders of the five affected nations. It appears that Visa regulations in South Africa are forcing Africans to take their business and tourism into the UK and USA where they can get visas for up to 10 years, not short term ones that South Africa offers them.
Visas do not stop illegal immigrants however!