Kenya’s President, William Ruto, has made a groundbreaking announcement, revealing plans to eliminate visa requirements for all African visitors to the country by the end of this year.
This bold move is expected to have far-reaching benefits, especially for Nigerian travelers connecting flights to various destinations and flying to Kenya, at a time when some countries have suspended visa-on-arrival services for Nigerians.
President Ruto, in his address at an international conference, emphasized the need to recognize that visa restrictions among African nations hinder progress.
“It is time we realize that having visa restrictions amongst ourselves is working against us.”
This development aligns with the long-standing goal of the African Union (AU) to facilitate visa-free travel within the continent, although progress has been sluggish.
According to a 2022 AU-backed report, only Seychelles, The Gambia, and Benin currently offer entry to all African citizens without requiring a visa.
The Africa Visa Openness Index, which measures the extent to which each African country is open to visitors from other African nations, indicates progress in simplifying entry processes and dropping restrictions.
In 2022, Kenya was ranked 31st out of 54 states on this index.
President Ruto stressed the importance of this policy change for business and entrepreneurship, stating,
“When people cannot travel, business people cannot travel, entrepreneurs cannot travel, we all become net losers.”
He made this announcement during a summit in Congo-Brazzaville aimed at protecting some of the world’s largest rainforests.
The African Union had introduced the African passport in 2016, with the vision of enabling all African citizens to travel across the continent without requiring visas.
However, the widespread availability of this passport remains a work in progress.