How to travel as an African citizen

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This article aims to help people living in Africa to travel, live, work or study in another country/continent. We have received many inquiries and emails from African people who want to make their way out of the country. As there is little to no freely available information on this subject, we try to summarize the most important things you will need to travel as an African citizen.

Challenges to getting a passport in Africa

Many countries make it difficult for their citizens or African countries to travel to their dream destinations. Africans who want to travel, not only to Western countries but also to other African countries, face great difficulties in obtaining visas. In some countries, such as Zimbabwe or Nigeria, ‘passport droughts’ are common and people have to wait months to get their travel documents. Passports can also be extremely expensive, like in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where issuing passports cost $185, making them some of the most expensive in the world. The average monthly income in Congo is $680, so travel documents are very costly for the average Congolese.

Unsurprisingly, the situation has led to a thriving black market in fake passports in Africa. This makes travel even more difficult for citizens wishing to leave their home country legally, as it reduces the trust in African passports in other countries.

African nations were supposed to scrap visa requirements for all African citizens by 2018. The African Union (AU) confirmed that progress has being made to achieve their goal and enable visa-free travel for all African citizens, to all African countries. The passport, a common travel document that will replace existing national passports, is expected to grant citizens of AU member states visa-free travel to all 54 countries in Africa (Ghana, Kenya, and the Seychelles already offer visa-free travel to African citizens). The introduction of the AU passport is also likely to facilitate travel to other continents. While this system may not solve all travel-related problems, it is definitely a step towards a freer and more integrated continent.

How to apply for your passport?

  • The procedures and documents required to apply for a passport may vary from country to country. For up-to-date information on requirements, ALWAYS check your government’s website.
  • Plan ahead, as the passport process can take several weeks or even months.
  • Prepare all necessary documents in advance.
  • Save money upfront to cover all passport and visa costs.
  • Here you can find more information on the most powerful African passports

How to earn enough money to travel

In order to travel, you need to make and save money. Money will not only buy you visas and tickets, but you will also need it to settle and live in another country. Remember that the cost of living in western countries is usually much higher than in many African countries. Finding a well-paid job in your hometown can be a challenge, but do not give up on your dreams. There are other ways to earn extra money.

Work Online

There are many online platforms where you can apply for remote jobs and work from home. Many jobs do not require any special skills and most of the time the employer will even provide learning materials or their online courses to get you started. However, you will need a computer and reliable internet. You will also need to be hardworking, motivated and have a professional attitude. Competition is fierce, your performance is constantly being measured and you need to stand out from the crowd. The following platforms offer online remote jobs:

  • Upwork – the largest online platform for finding freelance and remote work. If you want to start a freelance business
  • Freelancer – a constant stream of new freelance jobs for freelancers of all kinds. You can also browse most jobs before you sign up.
  • GURU – Jobs are available in an endless list of disciplines and niches.
  • Fiverr – It has now become one of Upwork’s biggest competitors with a wide range of work available.
  • PeoplePerHour – Here you can find jobs that pay by the hour. A good way to get started and build a portfolio.
  • HubstaffTalent -It is a free platform where you can find many full-time jobs.
  • Credo – It focuses primarily on SEO, PPC, or digital marketing freelance jobs.
  • Codeable – If you’re good at coding WordPress websites, this could be the place for you. Companies are looking for talented WordPress developers to work on projects of all shapes and sizes.

Personal Fundraising

Living in the digital age makes fundraising very easy and efficient. There are many fundraising websites that make self-funding easy and efficient. Before you start a fundraising campaign, make sure you have a very specific goal in mind.

  • Do not say you need money to travel and live abroad. Instead, create a campaign that will help you get a scholarship at a particular university, help you get a job at a particular company, pay for your plane tickets to a particular destination, etc.
  • Set a reasonable goal. Do your homework and don’t ask for more money than you really need.
  • Make your campaign personal, unique and appealing so people are more likely to donate. Record videos, upload pictures, tell a compelling story.
  • Let everybody know (friends, family, colleagues) and ask them to share your campaign so it reaches more people. Try to reach out to as many people as possible.
  • Study the terms carefully before creating a fundraising campaign. Every platform has different terms and conditions. Not everything will work for you, choose your method wisely.
  • Some fundraising websites worth checking out: GoGetFunding, MightyCause, Facebook Fundraiser, GoFundAfrica, FundraisingAfrica, JustGiving, M-Changa, BackaBuddy

Apply for international scholarships, grants and fellowships

Studying is probably the most rewarding way to move to another country. Fortunately, there are numerous scholarship programmes around the world that give talented and motivated students from Africa (and not only) the opportunity to study abroad. While this can indeed be a great opportunity, do not forget that you will also be working really hard to get one of these scholarships. It will require a lot of dedication and effort from you and you will need to plan your future education well in advance.

First of all, you will need to enrol in one of the local universities and study very hard to get the best results possible. Scholarship programmes usually only accept the best of the best. This is understandable as the host universities cover most of your costs, including visa and travel fees, living allowance and tuition fees. In return, they expect their visiting students to study hard and get involved in their projects.

  • Before applying to any scholarship programs, do your research. Learn about the different ways and requirements of studying abroad.
  • Know your deadlines. Expect to apply at least 6 months, often a year, before the programme starts.
  • Many scholarships for students from developing countries have additional criteria, such as a specific country of origin or destination, a particular field of study. Ties to a particular university are also common. It can take some savvy scholarship hunting and flexibility to find one that suits you.
  • You can always try to apply for different scholarships at different universities and even in different countries to increase your chances of being accepted.
  • You need to speak languages. English is certainly the most important, but if you speak French or Portuguese, for example, you might want to look for countries where people speak those languages.
  • A few sources where to find scholarships for an African student: ScolarshipsforDevelopment, International Scholarships for African Students, Full Scholarships in USA for African Students, Scholarships for Africans etc.
  • Erasmus+ is the European Union’s programme for education, training, youth and sport. It funds the mobility of students and young people and cooperation between Europe and other regions of the world, including Africa.

Find a job

Another good way to settle in a new country is to secure a job with an international company. New professional networks are emerging to link young African talent with international companies offering jobs in Europe. Africa Works is one of them. The African and the European Union are forming partnership and they are promoting integration and mobility between the two continents. You can also look opportunities on pages, like GoAbroad. Europe is in constant need of skilled professionals, and more and more companies are considering hiring young people from developing countries. If you study technology, engineering, innovation or medicine, your chances of finding a job in a European country are quite good.

What to do if your life is in danger

If you or your family are in life-threatening danger, if you are a victim of any form of violence, slavery or abuse, find and contact organizations that can help! Do not give money to traffickers and do not put your life in their hands. The chances of you not ending up where you want are extremely high. And even if you do reach your destination, the journey will be very dangerous and in some cases deadly.

Instead, seek for help at organizations like Amnesty International, the United Nations Refugee Agency. International Rescue Committee, Refugees International, HIAS, Catholic Relief Services, Help Refugees.

Follow Dora:

Dora is a translator, virtual assistant and social media manager from Hungary. She has traveled, worked and studied in Italy, Germany, Spain, Morocco and Portugal. She is the expert for platforms like Workaway or Upwork. Quote: "I am just a kook, but surfing is the best meditation. I also love riding shitty bikes, getting lost in big cities and sipping cold drinks on the beach while watching the sunset. I am also the official Sweet Disaster, making trouble or doing art for my own pleasure."

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