The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has resorted to issuing visas on arrival to inbound travellers as a way of addressing challenges many Ghanaian Missions abroad are facing in processing travel documents, a development that has awakened discussions on what happened to government’s promised e-visa project.
Last Friday, July 15, the Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that anyone who wants to come to Ghana will have to obtain a Special Authorisation Permit from the various missions, due to escalating challenges in issuing visas to travellers.
“Ghana Missions Abroad are encountering serious system challenges with the issuance of visas for potential travelers to Ghana. The situation has worsened over the past two weeks, creating chaotic scenes at some of the Ghana Missions,” the statement said.
According to the statement, Ghana Airports Company (GACL) has been requested to urgently notify all airlines operating in Ghana to allow passengers with the Special Authorisation Permit issued by the Ghana Missions Abroad to travel into the country.
The statement said: “Only passengers with such authorisation should be allowed to board, as such permit will be required for processing visas-on-arrival, adding, “All such passengers will be issued visas on arrival for a fee at the Kotoka International Airport”.
What happened to the e-visa project?
Ghana’s agenda to institute an Electronic Visa Regime (e-visa) for inbound travellers since 2020 is currently shrouded in uncertainty after key stakeholders raised issues with the plan.
As far back as 2019, Vice President Dr. Mahammudu Bawumia announced that government was ready to roll out an e-visa regime by 2020.
He was speaking at the first regional congress on women empowerment in the tourism sector with focus on Africa by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) in Accra.
In October 19, 2020, government through the World Bank-funded Ghana Tourism Development Project (GTDP) put out a procurement notice requesting bidders to design, supply, install, build capacity and deploy electronic a visa solution (e-visa) for the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS).
But CEO of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) Mr. Akwasi Agyeman has disclosed that there are stakeholder issues which have to be resolved concerning the processes.
“There are issues that have to be resolved between the Ministry of Interior, Foreign Ministry and National Security. Discussions are ongoing in that direction,” he said.
While stakeholder discussions lag, Ghana is currently facing challenges issuing visas to inbound travellers at the various embassies abroad – a situation that would have been resolved with an e-visa regime in place.
As the country delays with processes, a number of countries on the continent have long implemented an e-visa regime, notable among them Malawi, Benin, Nigeria, Botswana, Ethiopia, Morocco, Djibouti, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Guinea and Madagascar, among several others.