How to travel as an African citizen

This article aims to help people living in Africa to travel, live, work or study in an other Country/continent. We got many requests and emails from African people who want to make their way out of the country. Since there is little to no freely accessible information on this topic we try to collect to most essential things you will need to travel as an African citizen.

Challenges to getting a passport in Africa

Many African countries make it hard for their people to travel. Africans who want to travel, not only to western countries but also to other African ones, will face major difficulties when trying to obtain visas. In some countries like Zimbabwe or Nigeria “passport droughts” are common and people have to wait, sometimes for even months, to obtain 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 only $680, making it impossible to have one for most Congolese). Unsurprisingly, the situation has led to a thriving black market in fake passports in Africa. This makes travel, for citizens who want to legally leave their home country, even harder by lowering the confidence towards of 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 there goal and enable visa-free travel for all African citizens, to all African countries. The passport, a common travel document set to replace existing national passports, is expected to grant citizens of member states of the AU visa exemption to all the 54 states in Africa (Ghana, Kenya and the Seychelles already offer visa-free travel for African citizens). Launching the AU passport will likely to make easier to travel to other continents, too. While this system might not solve all the travel related problems, it definitely is a step towards a freer and more integrated continent.

How to apply for your passport?

  • The procedures and the documents you will need to apply for a passport may vary in each country. For valid information about the requirements ALWAYS visit your government’s website.
  • Plan ahead, because issuing the passport might take several weeks, or in certain cases even months.
  • Prepare all the necessary documents in advance.
  • Save money upfront to be able to cover all passport and visa costs.
  • Here you can find more information on the most powerful African passports

How to make enough money to travel

In order to travel you will have to make and save money. Money does not only buy you, visas and flight tickets but you will need it to settle down and live in an other country. Keep in mind that costs of living in western countries are usually a lot higher than they are in many African countries. While finding a well paid job in your hometown can be challenging, do not give up your dreams. There are other opportunities to make extra cash.

Work Online

There are many online platforms where you can apply to remote jobs and work basically from home. There are many jobs out there which do not require any special skills and most of the time the employer even provides learning material or their online courses to get you start with the job. Although, you will need a computer and reliable internet. You have to be hardworking, motivated and show professional attitude as well. The competition is big, your performance is constantly measured and you have to stand out of the crowds. The following platforms offer remote online jobs:

  • Upwork – the biggest online platform to find freelance and remote jobs. If you are about to start a freelancer
  • Freelancer – steady stream of new freelance jobs for freelancers of all disciplines. You can also browse most jobs before you even sign in.
  • GURU – They offer jobs at infinite list of disciplines and niches.
  • Fiverr – By now it has become one of the biggest Upwork competitors with lot of different works available.
  • PeoplePerHour – Here you can find jobs that are paid by the hour to complete. Good to begin with an build a portfolio.
  • HubstaffTalent – It is a free platform where a lot of full-time positions can be found.
  • Credo – It focuses primarily on SEO, PPC, or digital marketing freelance jobs.
  • Codeable – If you are good at coding WordPress websites this might be a place for you. Companies are looking for talented WordPress developers to work on projects of every scope and size.

Personal Fundraising

Living in a digital era makes fundraising very simple and efficient. There are plenty of fundraising websites which make self-fundraising easy and efficient. Before you start a fundraising campaign, make sure you set a very specific goal to reach.

  • Do not say you need money to travel and live abroad. Instead, create a campaign that helps you get a scholarship at one specific university, helps you land a job in one specific company, or pays your flight tickets to a specific destination etc.
  • Set a reasonable goal. Make initial calculations and don’t ask for more money than what 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.
  • A few fundraising websites worth to check out: GoGetFunding, MightyCause, Facebook Fundraiser, GoFundAfrica, FundraisingAfrica, JustGiving, M-Changa, BackaBuddy

Apply for international scholarships, grants or fellowships

Studying is probably the most rewarding way to move to an other country. Luckily there are numerous scholarship programs around the globe to give talented and motivated students from Africa (and not only) the opportunity to study abroad. While this can be, indeed, a great opportunity, do not forget that you will also work really hard to get one of those scholarships. It requires a lot of dedication and efforts from you and you will have to plan your future education ahead.

First of all, you have to enroll in one of the local universities and study very hard to get the best possible results. Usually, only the top of the top students will get accepted at scholarship programs. This is understandable, since the hosting universities will cover most of your costs, including visa and travel fees, living allowance and tuition fees. In exchange they expect their guest students to study hard and commit to 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 program starts.
  • Many scholarships for students from developing countries will have additional criteria, such as a specific country of origin or destination, a particular subject of study, or ties to a particular university, so it can take some savvy scholarship hunting and flexibility to find one that suits you.
  • You can always try to apply to different scholarships at different universities and even located in different countries to raise your chances to get accepted.
  • You must speak languages. English is certainly the most important, but if you speak French or Portuguese for instance, you might want to look for countries where people speak those languages.
  • A few sources where to find scholarships as 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 program for education, training, youth and sport. It funds academic and youth mobility and cooperation between Europe and other regions in the world, including Africa.

Find a job

An other good way to settle in a new country is securing a job at an international company. There are new professional networks emerging linking Africa’s young talents with international companies which offer positions 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 constantly in need of savvy professionals and more and more companies consider hiring young individuals from developing countries. If you study technology, engineering, innovation, medicine your chances to find a job in a European country will be reasonably higher.

What to do if your life is in danger

If you or your family are in life threatening danger, if you are victim of any form of violence, slavery or abuse, look for and contact organizations that can help! Do not give money to human traffickers and put your life in their hands. Chances that you will not end up where you want to be are extremely high. And even if you reach your desired destination the journey will be very dangerous and in 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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