Kenya has announced the impending removal of visa requirements for all African visitors by the end of this year, President William Ruto has said.
This was annoucned by President William Ruto on Saturday while making a keynote address at the Three Basins Climate Change Conference in Brazzaville, Congo
‘My minister [for Trade Moses Kuria] has informed me that somehow some of our officials made you pay visas to come home and asked me to apologise, which I do. When one comes home, they don’t pay to come home,’ President Ruto stated, highlighting Kenya’s commitment to supporting the AfCFTA. ‘I want to promise you that this might be the last time you are looking for a visa to come to Kenya because of two reasons. Number one, because this is home, and number two, we support wholeheartedly the AfCFTA. We must remove any impediments to the movement of people around our continent.’
“By the end of this year, no African will need a visa to enter Kenya. The time has come to understand the importance of doing trade between us,” he said
The Head of State said the move is aimed at boosting trade with African countries.
President Ruto stated that the low rate of intra-African trade and urged to reduce customs tariffs within the African continent to accelerate the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
“It is time we realize the importance of trading among ourselves and allowing goods, services, people and ideas to move freely across the continent,” he explained.
Only Seychelles, The Gambia and Benin offer entry to all African citizens without a visa, according to a 2022 AU-backed report.
But according to Africa’s Visa Openness Index – which measures the extent to which each country in Africa is open to visitors from other African countries – most countries are making progress towards simplifying entry processes and dropping restrictions to some other nations.
President Ruto told an audience in Congo-Brazzaville that it was bad for business.
“When people cannot travel, business people cannot travel, entrepreneurs cannot travel, we all become net losers.
“Let me say this: As Kenya, by the end of this year, no African will be required to have a visa to come to Kenya,” he said to loud cheers from the conference delegates.
“Our children form this continent should not be locked in borders in Europe and also be locked in borders in Africa.”
He was speaking at a summit aimed at protecting some of the world’s largest rainforests.
The AU launched its African passport in 2016. The idea behind the passport is for all African citizens to be able to travel throughout the continent without visas – but it is still not widely available.
This is in part because of concerns about security, smuggling and the impact on the local employment markets.