As part of a push to promote trade and travel inside the continent, Kenyan President William Ruto has declared that other African people will no longer need a visa to enter Kenya as of next year.
Speaking during an international conference on climate change held in Congo Brazzaville, the president pin-pointed the need to eliminate visa restrictions among African countries, noting that these restrictions are counterproductive. “By the end of this year, no African will be required to have a visa to come to Kenya,” Kenya’s president, William Ruto said.
High plane costs and expensive and time-consuming visa restrictions have long prevented African passport holders from traveling within their own continent; 32 of 54 African countries still need citizens of at least half of the continent’s nations to obtain a visa.
“Our children from this continent should not be locked in borders in Europe and also be locked in borders in Africa,” Ruto said.
Kenya will join the Gambia, Benin, and Seychelles as the fourth African nation to implement the policy of granting unfettered travel to its citizens. The first to do so in 2016 was Seychelles, an island nation in East Africa that is primarily dependent on tourism.
According to Ruto, removing obstacles is essential to making the African continental free trade area easier to execute. He declared, “It is time we realized how important it is to trade among ourselves and to allow people, ideas, goods, and services to travel freely across the continent.”
In recent years, the African Union has intensified its demands that additional African nations lower their travel restrictions. In order to grant Africans unlimited travel within the continent, it introduced the “AU passport” in 2016. Nonetheless, there has been a restricted distribution, and high-ranking officials and diplomats are the primary users of the passports.
Concerns about crime and security have slowed change in African nations. However, the 2022 Africa visa openness report states that the majority of nations have been streamlining entry requirements. Most African nations provide visa-free travel to at least five other nations, with additional freedom of movement within regional groups. Since 2016, the number of countries that grant e-visas has likewise increased by almost 100%.
President Ruto emphasized the negative effects of visa restrictions on travelers, companies, and entrepreneurs. Resolving this, he said, “As Kenya, by the end of this year, no African will be required to have a visa to come to Kenya.” The conference attendees enthusiastically applauded this announcement. “We all become net losers when people, businesspeople, and entrepreneurs are unable to travel,” Ruto stated.