Kenya scraps visa requirement, bringing Africa’s dream of visa-free travels closer to reality

Kenya scraps visa requirement, bringing Africa’s dream of visa-free travels closer to reality

Kenya has joined Seychelles, Benin, and The Gambia in announcing the lifting of visa restrictions for all African nationals on 12 December in a move that has been hailed as a step in the right direction.

President William Ruto stated in his address at the recent Youth Connekt Africa 2023 Summit in Nairobi that he has long held ambitions to abolish visa barriers among Africans, whom he views as ‘one people’, and that he would continue his push for a visa-free continent. Those ambitions were realized on Jamhuri Day on 12 December when Kenya commemorates its independence from British rule. It would make Kenya only the fourth African country to implement visa-free entry policy after Seychelles, Gambia and Benin.

Seychelles, one of the world’s major tourist destinations, was the first to do so in 2016.

“We are going to declare that no African will be required to have a visa to come to Kenya. It is because we are one people and this continent needs to write its own narrative,” Ruto said.

“Our children from this continent should not be locked in borders in Europe and also be locked in borders within Africa,” Ruto declared earlier, on 1 November, to a cheering crowd during an international summit in Congo-Brazzaville. But some experts have cautioned that challenges, such as illegal migration, remain in reaping the benefits of a borderless continent without compromising jobs and security, that is why the opportunities and challenges need to be weighed carefully to make a meaningful transition.

Still, “when people cannot travel, business people cannot travel, entrepreneurs cannot travel, we all become net losers,” Alan Hirsch, a research fellow at University of Cape Town, argues in The Conversation. “Despite this progress, by the end of 2022 only 27% of African routes allowed Africans to travel visa-free, Hirsch adds.

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