Wait, What? Visa Denial Bars Actual Africans from African Economic Summit

The 100 percent rejection rate, however, was unusual and brought the number of attendees down from the usual 150-200 to only 50-75.

Event organisers for the African Global Economic and Development Summit told the newspaper that all the African citizens who requested visas to attend the three-day conference were rejected, sparking speculation that the denials could be linked to US President Donald Trump's controversial anti-immigration policies, which have barred entry to the country to six majority-Muslim countries.

A yearly University of Southern California summit that focuses on economic development on the African continent is missing a significant component this year: Africans.

Many of those who planned to attend were government officials, artists and business people who had paid the US$500 attendance fee and were speakers at the summit.

And it was sad to see because these people were so disheartened.

"I have to say that most of us feel it's a discrimination issue with the African nations", she added.

Countries whose delegations were affected included Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia and South Africa.

Summit chairman Mary Flowers, speaking to Voice of America, said: "Usually 40% [of the visitors] are turned down but the others come".

"We do not discuss the details of individual visa cases", the official said in an email.

About 100 attendees were unable to obtain visas from the U.S. State Department, she says.

Flowers claims numerous visa applicants rejected had already registered for the event and paid initial visa fees, but were denied after short interview, despite bringing extensive documentation, such as bank statements and property records. But he held off buying his plane ticket until his appointment at the embassy on March 13, four days before he was supposed to travel. People from countries covered by Trump's travel ban, such as Somalia, Sudan and Libya, did not seek a visa for the event.

The reality star businessman wasn't even in office for a full month before he wrote up a highly-criticized travel ban for seven Middle Eastern countries. "In a couple of years, United States officials and businesses alike will complain that other global players such as China will have replaced them on the fastest growing continent on earth." yet another added.

  • Larry Hoffman