Cape Town: Strict visa requirements were continuing to frustrate trade in Africa and perpetuate perceptions that SA was not open for business, the Western Cape Investment and Trade Promotion Agency (Wesgro) said this week. Red tape, including onerous visa requirements, is often seen as the biggest impediment to inter-African trade.
According to a survey released earlier this year by accounting, audit and advisory firm Grant Thornton, over-regulation and red tape were the biggest constraints to business expansion in SA.
Speaking at the Cape Chamber of Commerce's doing business in Africa seminar, Wesgro CEO Nils Flaatten said that in order to accelerate inter-African trade, movement of people also needed to be prioritised.
He said there were perceptions in some African countries, such as Nigeria and Angola, that South African businesses wanted to expand into the continent, yet it was difficult for other African businesses to enter SA. "We need to do something about this...it is a serious issue and it is really bad for business."
He said introducing an African Union visa for business people would go a long way into promoting inter-African trade. The visa should allow business people to do business in all African countries freely for a specific period of time. "This is not a crazy thought...it has happened in Asia," Mr Flaatten said.
Speaking on the sidelines of the seminar, Cape Chamber of Commerce president Michael Bagraim said local businesses needed to start prioritising investing in Africa as western markets continued to struggle, with no end in sight for the eurozone crisis.