Kenya is poised to eliminate visa requirements for all visitors starting January 2024, marking a significant shift to become a visa-free country, as declared by President William Ruto.
The president’s recent announcement builds on an earlier decision to open borders for visa-free travel by Africans at the close of December 2023.
During the 60th Jamhuri Day celebrations in Nairobi, President Ruto revealed that, commencing January 2024, the government would abolish the need for visas for all individuals coming to Kenya. This groundbreaking move means people worldwide will no longer have to apply for a visa to enter the country.
To facilitate this policy shift, the government has developed a digital platform to pre-identify all travelers on an electronic platform, streamlining the process. Travelers will only require electronic travel authorization before visiting Kenya, known for its diverse tourist attractions.
President Ruto expressed pride in Kenya’s historical decision, emphasizing that no individual globally would bear the burden of applying for a visa to enter the country. He conveyed a warm welcome to humanity, echoing the sentiment: “Tobong’u Lorre!” and emphasizing Kenya as the home of humanity.
This initiative aligns with a global trend where many countries are simplifying entry processes and easing restrictions on international travel. Kenya’s move reflects a commitment to globalization and opening borders to foster socio-economic development.
President Ruto highlighted Kenya’s historical significance as the first home of humanity, underscoring the country’s rich heritage. He emphasized Kenyans’ willingness to embrace global integration, showcasing their fearlessness in venturing abroad and welcoming visitors warmly.
The decision to eliminate visa requirements aligns with President Ruto’s previous statements at the Youth Connekt Africa Summit, advocating for Africa to abandon visa requirements.
He pointed out that these requirements, introduced by European nations, have been discarded by the same nations. Kenya supports the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), aiming to create a borderless market for African entrepreneurs and businesses.
By abolishing visa requirements, Kenya seeks to enhance economic integration on the continent, drawing parallels with Europe, where 27 countries have eliminated visas for a population of 450 million.
President Ruto emphasized the positive impact of borderless countries and urged African nations to move beyond visa restrictions, fostering a sense of unity and collaboration.
This announcement follows President Ruto’s statement in Congo-Brazzaville in October, affirming Kenya’s commitment to ending visa requirements for all African visitors by the year’s end. He stressed the detrimental effects of visa restrictions on societal growth, advocating for a more interconnected and open Africa.
Notably, Seychelles, The Gambia, and Benin have previously offered visa-free entry to all African citizens, with Rwanda recently joining this group. Kenya’s decision aligns with a broader narrative of promoting unity and economic collaboration across the continent.