About a week ago, Ethiopia decided to open its doors to all its African brothers and sisters by offering Visa on arrival to any citizen of any African country, starting on the 9th of November 2018. This was hinted by the Ethiopian Prime minister about few months ago as Rwanda was the first to implement the same policy, easing travel within Africa for African people.
This was a fantastic news for me as I tried applying for the online visa a couple of weeks ago but was not successful in doing so – the visa fee payment was declined at every attempt. Running out of solutions and thinking that I might have to reschedule my trip, I received the news that visa on arrival was now possible for Africans, and not just passport holders from the West (EU, USA, Australia, etc.). After a couple of days checking online and reading the latest news article to make sure that it was accurate, I bought my ticket on Thursday and on Saturday I was on a flight to Addis.
The plane landed in Addis at around 8:35pm Ethiopian time. After leaving the plane, I went straight to Immigration – I knew where it was, I have been to the Bole Airport at least a dozen times, mostly in transit. I have to admit I was a bit nervous. What if it was not true? I had just spent more than a thousand dollars on a flight to get here. I stood in the Visa on Arrival queue, after going through the health officers trying to meet people who had been in DRC recently (I think there is an Ebola outbreak over there). There were less than 5 people ahead of me, way shorter than the long queue for Transit visas. In less than a couple of minutes, it was my turn to go to the Immigration officer, a cute lady with curly hair. After letting her know that I wanted a visa on arrival, she took my passport and gave it a man behind her. The latter started writing on the visa stamp and gave her back the passport with the stamp. At this point I realised that I had given her the wrong passport (the expired one). I apologised to her and gave her the new one. She made a correction to the passport number on the visa stamp. She took my picture and asked me where I will be staying in Addis. She then directed me to the back counter where the payment was to be made. I walked around the counter and I was asked $USD50 for the visa and that’s it. My brand new Ethiopian visa! The whole process took less than 10 minutes.
Congratulations Ethiopia for this initiative and I hope the rest of African countries will follow suit soon.