A government delegation is in South Africa to finalise discussions on and sign an agreement that will guarantee all category of Ghanaian travellers visa-free to the southern Africa nation.
South Africa in early July announced a visa waiver for Ghanaians travelling to that country as part of moves by the country to strengthen its relationship with Ghana and boost its tourism inflows.
Implementation however delayed, but South Africa Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane explained Tuesday on TV3 New Day that the delay was due to ongoing discussions between the two countries.
She told Berla Mundi that a Ghana delegation has arrived in South Africa to conclude discussions on the visa waiver and sign the necessary agreement on November 27.
“What has been the delay is that for us to implement it, we require the signature from the Ghanaian authorities. That will happen tomorrow [November 27]. The Ghanaian team is in South Africa to finalise the discussions and the signatures. So we’re looking forward,” she said.
Ms Kubayi-Ngubane denied claims that the visa waiver was for only persons with diplomatic passports, indicating the waiver “is for everybody”.South Africa President, she said, has tasked her and the Home Affairs Minister to ensure all the processes required for the implementation of the visa waiver for Ghanaians.
“When my president comes here, that’s the first thing he wants to know; that it’s been implemented,” she stated.
The Minister said the Ghana delegation will as part of the visit meet with South Africa tour operators to learn about what the country has on offer in terms of tourism.
“We get that many people have limited exposure to South Africa and limited knowledge. We have packages that are different for anyone who wants to visit golf courses, those who enjoy wine, we’ve got the mountains, we’ve got everything that people can come and visit and experience,” she said.
Year of Return is for all Africans
Ms Kubayi-Ngubane who is in Ghana attending the UNWTO Presidential Leadership Taskforce on Women Empowerment on Tourism Sector underscored the need for all Africans to join hands with Ghana in celebrating The Year of Return.
“The Year of Return is not only for Ghana,” she said, “it’s for Africa”.
She said all Africans must celebrate it “because it has a meaning to all of us; it symbolises our freedom and without understanding where we come from as Africans, we’ll never be able to build a better Africa”.
The Minister said to also urged African countries to work together in partnership to promote tourism on the continent.
In line with that, she revealed she has agreed with Ghana’ss Tourism Minister to work together for the good of both countries.
“There are lessons I can learn from Ghana, there are lessons she can learn from South Africa and our teams will collaborate to make sure we thrive both nations because no nation should thrive alone in the continent. We must all work together to build the continent and better Africa for all,” she advised.
The Visa-Free Agreement With South Africa was announced on July 10th 2019, before South Africa’s Parliament by the Home Affairs Minister, Pakishe Aaron Motsoaledi.
No further details, including the implementation date, were provided by the Minister who was presenting his Ministry’s 2019/2020 budget to parliament for approval.
Ghana becomes one of the seven new countries South Africa has added to its list of visa-free countries.
“Today, we wish to announce an addition to our visa – free countries. These are: Qatar, United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Ghana, Sao Tome and Principe,” Mr Motsoaledi announced.
Until the announcement, only Ghanaians on diplomatic and service passports were allowed entry into South Africa without visa.
Ghanaians applying for South African visa were required to pay about 500 cedis as visa fees.
The South African government’s decision to remove the visa requirement is expected to be welcomed by many Ghanaians who have made South Africa their tourism destination on the continent.
Ghana already has visa-free agreement with 13 countries in the world.
These are Barbados, Mauritius, Seychelles Island, Kenya, Lesotho, Namibia, Tanzania, Trinadad and Togabago, Singapore, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Jamaica and Rwanda.
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