Ruto set to abolish VISA requirement for African descents with business interests in Kenya
William Ruto, 2022. Daniel Irungu—EPA-EFE/Shutterstock.com
NAIROBI, Kenya – In a bid to attract investors globally, Kenya’s President, William Ruto, plans to abolish visa restrictions for African citizens traveling to the country for business.
This is part of efforts to enhance intra-Africa commerce. The move aligns with Kenya’s support for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and aims to remove impediments to the movement of people within the continent.
“My minister for Trade has informed me that somehow some of our officials made you pay visas to come home and asked me to apologize, which I do. When one comes home, they don’t pay to come home,” he said.
“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,” he added.
By eliminating trade restrictions and improving transportation systems, Kenya aims to promote the free flow of products, reduce prices, and make intra-African commerce more profitable.
Kenya’s head of state also apologized for the visa requirements to public and business sector leaders at a forum on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in Nairobi earlier this week.
Former president Uhuru Kenyatta 2017 made it possible for any African traveling to Kenya to obtain a visa upon arrival. At the time of Kenya’s action, Rwanda had just issued a similar instruction in the name of pan-Africanism without requiring reciprocity from other nations.
Nairobi has long advocated for the elimination of trade restrictions between African nations in order to facilitate the free movement of people, products, and services through integrating regional economic blocs.
As part of the efforts to promote the flow of products under preferential trading, which began on January 1, 2021, Kenya was one of the nations chosen to take part in the pilot phase of the AfCFTA Initiative on Guided Trade last year. Ghana, Cameroon, Egypt, Mauritius, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Tunisia made up the other nations.
Africa’s underdeveloped transportation systems are to blame for the rising prices of products and services by up to 40%, making intra-African commerce less profitable than trading with other industrialized continents like Europe.
Meanwhile, Tanzania has also followed suit and will now start granting special status to diaspora inhabitants by the end of 2023.
This was revealed by Stergomena Tax, minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation.
“Diaspora made 10 recommendations that have been considered and will be included in the special status arrangement, but in the endorsements, there was no suggestion of divine rights,” she stated.
Dr. Tax continued by saying that the proposed special status framework takes into account the desire of the diaspora to visit the nation, own land, and use financial services.
When presenting the budget to the House earlier, she further elaborated that the move was one of the ministry’s initiatives for 2023–2024 that would allow the Tanzanian diaspora to fully contribute to the development of their home country. As the government works to build an atmosphere that is supportive of this endeavor, Dr. Tax remarked that the diaspora should be more involved in the nation’s economic endeavors.
“The ministry compiled the views of various stakeholders inside and outside the country, including from the diaspora. The views have classified issues that should be considered in the special status arrangement,” she said.
Dr. Tax remarked that there is ongoing discussion over dual citizenship in Tanzania and elsewhere. She emphasized the procedure for awarding them special status and claimed that President Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania has worked hard to ensure that the diaspora gets their rights.
“If you grant dual citizenship right now when there is no national and international framework, there are those who may miss out on the opportunities that we hope to provide,” she warned.