South Africa brought its “We’re Open for Business” message to Lagos on Monday, saying it worked to ease the misery of Nigerians applying for visas to enter the country and will now issue long-term visas of up to ten years to proven Nigerian entrepreneurs.

Bobby Moroe, Consul General of South Africa, announced this Monday at a round table with the business community of Lagos, which was also addressed by Ntakuseni Lambani, head of immigration at the Consulate in the commercial capital. He said the offer puts South Africa ahead of all other countries in Africa.

South Africa also offers immigration to Nigerians under the country’s critical skills work visa and those who obtain it and work up to five years in the country will have the opportunity to obtain full residency status thereafter.

Moroe said his country was interested in promoting investment in South Africa by Nigerians and visa applications under the country’s investor immigration category would be dealt with expeditiously.

The Consulate receives around 120 visa applications daily in Lagos, but business leaders have long complained about the dehumanizing treatment they experience when applying for South African visas and the new offer is expected to ease that pain.

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“I am happy to announce that the South African government has been reviewing their visa processes and many improvements are taking place. Today we can say that, from now on, we will be able to issue 10-year multiple-entry visas to the business community in Nigeria,’” Moroe said.

The Consul General acknowledged that mistakes had been made in the past, but said: “We have been listening and this session with you is a continuation of that process.

He also insisted that with the start of issuing visas for up to three years recently, the response has been good.

The dialogue on Monday was the first in a series that will also include a dialogue with members of the Nigerian academy.

It is expected that with the long-term offer of visas, the number of applications will decrease and this, in turn, should reduce the turnaround time for the visa application.