With over 185 entries from over 33 countries, Shareefa Youshna Jewan from Mauritius emerged as the winner of the 55 Voices for Africa (55Voices4Africa) writing competition conducted under the #VisaFreeAfrica (VFA) initiative. She is closely followed by Priscilla Takondwa Semphere and Olewuenyi Chioma Catherine as the first and second runners up.
The 55Voices4Africa competition invited youth from across Africa to share their experiences about challenges faced with intra-continent travel. Entries were welcomed in English, French, Portuguese and Arabic.
Out of the 55 countries in Africa, only 11 currently allow all African nationals to travel freely without the need for a visa. Mobility is a big issue in Africa where there are thousands of untold stories of opportunities lost due to visa regulations. This writing competition aimed to put a face to many young Africans who have experienced this with reference to education, tourism, health and work among many sectors they would thrive in.
In her article Shareefa said “In my opinion, all African countries should mimic Seychelles’ visa liberalization policy and provide free access to all other African nations. Increased mobility will follow. Africa’s population is the youngest amongst all the continents and it is of utmost importance that all Africans enjoy access to better educational opportunities and more competitive labor markets. From a realistic perspective, Africa will not transform into a visa free continent for its citizens overnight. As goes the dictum “old habits die hard”. It may take a while for the ugly bureaucratic norms to fade away. Nevertheless, more than ever, the transformation into a visa free Africa demands to be initiated today.”
All winners will receive cash prizes, a winning certificate and have the opportunity to have their work published on the VFA website as well as other prestigious media.
VFA is a global campaign to facilitate mobility in Africa driven by the Kigali Global Shapers in partnership with National Aviation Services (NAS), the fastest growing aviation services provider in the emerging markets. Kigali Global Shapers, a community whose vision is to create a platform that engages with the youth to inspire innovation and change launched the writing competition to build further awareness on the important of achieving a visa free Africa.