Kenya has scrapped visa requirements for African nationals arriving into the country.
President Kenyatta, in his inauguration speech for his second term in office, announced that Kenya has joined a growing number of African states offering visas to African nationals upon arrival.
Present at the inauguration were African leaders from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gabon, Nigeria, Rwanda, Somalia, Uganda, and Zambia, among others.
According to President Kenyatta, visa-free travel for Africans across the continent promotes pan-Africanism, as well as support for trade between African nations.
“For my fellow Africans, the free movement of people on our continent has always been a cornerstone of Pan-African brotherhood and fraternity,” said Kenyatta.
“Today, I am directing that any African wishing to visit Kenya will be eligible to receive a visa at the port of entry.” Adding that the move will help promote social and diplomatic openness between African nations as well as support growth and trade.
“The freer we are to travel and live with one another, the more integrated and appreciative of our diversity, we will become. The political balkanization that risks our mutual security, the negative politics of identity, will recede as our brotherhood expands to embrace more Africans.”
Furthermore, Kenyatta went ahead and said that members of the East African Community (EAC) will be treated as Kenyans when they visit the country. They will be able to use their identity cards, and not passports, to do business and own property in Kenya. The EAC consists of six countries including Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. Kenyatta said he didn’t expect any reciprocity from his other member states. [Quartz]
Considered to be one of the strongest passports in Africa, the Kenyan passport permits Kenyan citizens to travel visa-free or visa on arrival access to 69 countries and territories.
In Africa, Seychelles has the most powerful passport with 130 countries allowing its citizens to travel visa free with the passport.
The development by President Kenyatta to open up Kenya’s borders to African nations has been met with mixed reactions.
An editorial by Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper expressed security concerns at the new visa rule. It said ‘Kenya has set itself to an enormous challenge… with implications on the economy and security.’
However, the executive director of the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE), Jacqueline Mugo was upbeat about the announcement.
Currently, at least 21 countries have loosened or scrapped their visa rules altogether, allowing for freer travels across Africa. Among these countries include: Tunisia, Nigeria, Ghana, São Tomé et Príncipe, Malawi, Rwanda (citizens from every country in the world get visas upon arrival), Mauritius, and Benin.