The African Union’s promise of easy travel for Africans throughout the continent is still some way off, but Ethiopia is taking a step towards helping that become a reality.
Speaking at the opening of parliament and outlining the government’s legislative program, President Mulatu Teshome said that African nationals would be able to get visas on arrival in the country this fiscal year (2018/19).
The country is doing this to contribute its part to the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, Mulatu said. All African countries are expected to allow African travellers to enter their respective countries by issuing visa on arrival by 2023.
The PM’s chief of staff tweeted at the time that: “A relaxed visa regime will enhance both Ethiopia’s openness and will allow the country to harness the significant stopover transit traffic of Fly Ethiopian.”
He further said the government would do more to accelerate Ethiopia’s move to join the World Trade Organization (WTO).
In his speech, the President also presented a motion detailing on government’s plan for this fiscal year.
“Due to political unrest, our last year performance was not as expected,” the President said while speaking about government’s last year achievement.
However, as part of the efforts to widen the political space and protect human rights of citizens, thousands of prisoners were released, he noted.
Ethiopia and Eritrea restored relations after 20 years of stalemate and exiled political parties have returned home following the ratification of an amnesty law by the Parliament, he added.
As a chair of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Ethiopia has played the leading role to resolve problems between South Sudanese conflicting parties and to mediate Eritrea and Djibouti, the President said.
He further noted that the government would take the necessary measures to ensure the rule of law and contain contraband trade at border areas.
He added the government would make economic reform and attract more investment by encouraging the private sector through policy and legal reforms.
He further said the government would reform democratic institutions and various laws.
The President called on competing parties to pursue a peaceful path and be responsible for their political activities.
He also urged the media to play a vital role in the democratisation process in the spirit of accountability.