Africa again has caught the attention of hungry investors from China, India, Brazil, Arabia and Turkey. More and more countries are becoming politically and economically stable. Construction and development is booming in South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. These countries attract millions of tourists each year and yet, unfortunately, Guyanese and Surinamese nationals need visas to visit all of them except South Africa.
Guyana which had championed liberation movements in Africa and hosted many African heads of states still does not have diplomatic ties with many African nations. Further, Guyanese require visas to visit most African countries except the Gambia, Malawi, Botswana and South Africa.
From all the indications out of Georgetown, the new coalition government which has a history of strong ties with Africa and the Islamic world under former president Forbes Burnham who visited Algeria, Botswana, Egypt, Guinea Conakry, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and other African countries, will seek to further strengthen ties with Africa and Islamic countries. Ironically, Guyana does not even have a visa abolition policy with some of these countries. Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda are now some of the fastest growing economies in Africa today.
Interestingly, under the Burnham administration, four Arab countries had embassies in Guyana; today none exist. Burnham received heads of state from Liberia, Nigeria, Botswana, Tanzania, and Zambia. Today, Guyana hardly receives such distinguished visits.
I urge the Government of Guyana to embark on bilateral consultations with Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe to remove the visa regime between these countries and Guyana. These are some the most beautiful countries on the planet and with a fine tourism product that attracts millions of tourists.
The Jamaicans and Trinidadians don’t need a visa to visit Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe or Tanzania. Why can’t the Government of Guyana do the same for Guyanese nationals? I will point out to critics that I don’t see or read of an influx of nationals from these countries to Jamaica and Trinidad.
The Guyana ambassador at the UN and the high commissioner in South Africa should be assigned the task of entering mutual visa-free regime negotiations between Guyana and these countries.