Thursday, November 19, 2009

Why is it so difficult to get a Visa to Nigeria?

Not only for US citizens but also for Africans (so I have heard), the Nigerian visa is elusive.

Getting a visa for Uganda was easy and very inexpensive. The 'visa' for Zimbabwe was given at the Harare airport. I did note that Americans pay a smaller fee than Brits for entry to Zimbabwe. Teasing the English guy behind me in line about that did NOT go over well. Anyway, who knows how these things are calculated really?

I do know that I leave for London next weekend, on my way to Nigeria, and the Nigerian consulate in Washington DC has my passport, and not a small amount of my money already, and they don't seem to be able to get my visa to me for several weeks. I believe their explanation that they have a large number of visa requests at this time causing a backlog. Sadly, I was unable to keep my inner dialogue.....inner....and did say, out loud, that this was an excellent opportunity to get more money from me--given the tight spot I was in. Did I confirm the ugly American stereotype? Oh well, Nigerians like to call themselves the Americans of Africa. Perhaps, that will be in my favour.

How will this resolve? I sent a plaintive email to the African Stock Exchange Association (ASEA) conference organisers who previously assured me that my visa application would go without a hitch. I heard back almost immediately. Some poor gentleman from the Nigerian Stock Exchange whose Blackberry was still on, said he would help me in the morning. Mobile phones in sub-Saharan Africa are pretty awesome things!! They do everything, pay your bills, act as a bank account. My mobile service is exceedingly lame in comparision.

I think I will get to Nigeria. I mean I plan to get to London first with my trusty US Passport. A little more money may be extracted but it is worth it to me. The 2009 ASEA conference theme is the Global Financial Crisis and African Capital Markets-a fascinating topic!! Abuja, Nigeria sounds lovely and realtively safe. I am jazzed about going.


  1. Try being a Nigerian and try getting an American visa and then you'll understand how easy a time you have by comparison. Actually, the Nigerian government does its best to be accommodating to foreigners wishing to visit the country for conferences or business but will still charge you the standard visa processing fees just like all countries of the world.

    The time it takes for processing just has to do with inefficiencies in the system that they plan on addressing shortly once the new guidelines are released that will simplify the visa process for visitors.

    Enjoy your conference in Abuja!

    And by the way, Nigerians are simply Nigerians and any comparisons to Americans would be foolhardy.

  2. Rightly said, friend! I know I will enjoy Abuja, may thanks and come back to enjoy my fotos.

    I do know that Africans have a terrible time getting a visa ANYWHERE. It is why academic conferences on Africa in Europe are so poorly attended and why moving research forward there and in America is slow and laborious. Quite a shame.

    Thank you for joining the conversation.