The Visa upon Arrival Pilot Project was launched at Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA) on Wednesday by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration and it is aimed at stimulating economic growth following the Namibia National Economic Growth Summit held last month.
During the Economic Summit held in August this year, delegates agreed that Namibia should take steps to allow the movement and settling of potential investors in the country in line with the goal to lure capital into the country.
Minister of home affairs and immigration Frans Kapofi on Wednesday launched the pilot project for issuance of visa upon arrival into, starting with Hosea Kutako International Airport before being implement at other points of entry such Walvis Bay Airport.
“The Ministry was tasked during the recent 2019 Economic Growth Summit convened by His Excellency President Dr. Hage G. Geingob, to make concerted efforts to introduce the ‘e-visa or visa on arrival at entry point at a low nominal fee’ in order to make it easy for the visitors to our country and to further boost local economic growth. However, prior to the Summit, the Ministry received approval from Cabinet to commence with the Visa on Arrival pilot project; and for the issuance of Five-Year Employment Permits to reputable Investors and those with critical Skills and Expertise”, Kapofi said.
One of the fundamental purposes which gave rise to this project is Government’s commitment to improve amongst others; Namibia’s Global Competitive Ratings, the Minister said, adding that “We should therefore be cognizant that this can only be achieved by eliminating ‘bottlenecks’ in our operations and processes. Furthermore, our Ministry will continue to deploy smarter approaches to support tourism and economic growth while maintaining the integrity and security of our country”.
Kapofi added that Namibia does not have a far reaching diplomatic representation and network across the world and thus visitors from specific countries no longer need to apply in advance before departing their countries of origin for tourism, visiting, or transiting through Namibia.
Along with this principal decision by the Government, Namibia exempted over 60 countries from visa requirements when their citizens are to visit Namibia for tourism purposes.
“This time, 47 countries have been selected for visas on arrival. All three categories of passports, being ordinary, diplomatic and official/service passports are accommodated for purposes of the visa issuance on arrival. I wish to make it clear that this arrangement excludes people coming to Namibia for employment purposes which obligate such people to apply and acquire employment permit in advance. Visas on arrival will benefit the following categories of visitors: Bona fide tourists (excluding tour guides who are required to obtain employment permit/work visa in advance); Potential investors coming to explore business opportunities; Visitors coming to attend meetings, seminars, workshops (excluding those coming to perform pay related jobs which still requires one to obtain an employment permit/work visas); Friendships and family related visits; and Medical related visits”.
The current 27 African countries selected are as follows: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic (CAR), Chad, Comoros, Cote d’ Ivore, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritania, Niger , Rwanda , Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Togo, Tunisia , Western Sahara Republic and Uganda.
Other countries are as follows: Belarus, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Chile, Czech Republic, Hungary, Mexico, Moldova, Nicaragua, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, South Korea, Venezuela, Vietnam, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Ukraine.
Namibia Airports Company Board of Directors Chairman, Dr. Leake Hangala says his institution support the idea and hopes it becomes a permanent service at the airports.
“Not only will it modernize the visa system of our country, but it will definitely increase efficiency, promote tourism and economic growth. More so, new opportunities will be unlocked to our key stakeholders in the aviation industry and beyond. Similarly, this initiative will make Namibia a destination of choice, attract skills and facilitating increased trade and investment to position Namibia as the logistic hub”, Dr. Hangala said.
Dr. Hangala added that Airports are a critical gateway to any country’s economy and this pilot project to issue Visas upon arrival is one of the smarter approaches to support tourism and economic growth, whilst simultaneously maintaining the integrity and security of national borders.
“Granting visa of visas at airport is not an end in itself, but should be a means to make a competitive nation in terms of movements of people and goods, in terms of service delivery and of projecting an image of professionalism”.
The Visa Upon Arrival procedure will require a visitor to complete a visa application form as he/she arrives at Hosea Kutako International airport, submit the completed application form together with his/her passport to an immigration officer who will process the application. Upon approval of the application, the immigration officer will request the applicant to make a payment of One Thousand and Eighty Namibia Dollar (N$1080.00).