March 4, 2024

Kenyan President William Ruto on Tuesday announced that visitors to Kenya from across the world will no longer require a visa from January 2024.

According to Reuters, Ruto said his government had developed a digital platform to ensure all visitors would receive an electronic travel authorisation in advance, instead of needing to apply for a visa.

“It shall no longer be necessary for any person from any corner of the globe to carry the burden of applying for a visa to come to Kenya,” he said in a speech in the capital Nairobi at an event to mark 60 years of independence from Britain.

Kenya will be the fourth African country to make the change and offer unrestricted travel to Africans, after the Gambia, Benin and Seychelles. Seychelles, an East African island nation that relies heavily on tourism, was the first to do so in 2016.

At a conference in the Republic of Congo in October, Ruto said costly and time-consuming visa requirements, as well as high airfares, have long created barriers to inter-African travel for African passport holders; 32 out of 54 African countries still require the nationals of half or more countries on the continent 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.

He explained that the removal of barriers was necessary to facilitate the implementation of the African continental free trade area. “It is time we realise the importance of trading among ourselves and allowing goods, services, people and ideas to move freely across the continent,” he said.

The African Union has doubled down in recent years on its calls for more African countries to remove travel barriers. It launched an “AU passport” in 2016 to allow unrestricted travel for Africans within the continent. However, the rollout has been limited and the passports are mainly used by diplomats and high-ranking officials.

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