Gabon on Thursday approved the abolition of visas for nationals of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), in line with the agreement reached in 2013 on freedom of movement in Central Africa, announced the authorities Friday.
The nationals of the Cémac zone (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Chad) are “no longer subject to the visa of entry into Gabon for any stay not exceeding three months”, according to a circular that took effect on October 19th. The measure aims to “reconcile the need for free movement and the security requirement”.
The country of 1.8 million inhabitants has attracted for decades many immigrants, including West Africa (Nigeria, Benin), many of whom are in an irregular situation.
In 2013, the six members of Cémac reached an agreement on free movement. But the agreement was never implemented because of the refusal of Equatorial Guinea and – until now – Gabon, two sparsely populated and relatively prosperous oil countries who feared in particular massive and uncontrolled immigration.
Equatorial Guinea reiterated mid-August its rejection of the free movement agreement, except for holders of “diplomatic, official and service passports”.
Gabon also announces that “a special derogatory regime is granted to nationals of the G20 countries and those of the Gulf Cooperation Council ( GCC ) wishing to visit Gabon”, in order to “enhance the attractiveness of the country and its opening of advantage to foreign direct investment “, according to a statement from the Interior Ministry dated Thursday.
The Central African Republic “materialized” on October 13 the agreement of free movement between the countries of Cemac.
In early August, Chad agreed to abolish the visa requirement for Cemac nationals.
Founded in June 2000 in Malabo, CÉACAC brings together countries with very different incomes and is struggling to implement economic and monetary integration mechanisms.