Nairobi has announced a new plan that will see South Africans stay longer than 30 days in Kenya without visas.
According to a legal notice which was published on June 9, 2017, visiting South Africans are now allowed to stay up to 90 days without a visa. The Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery says in the notice that South African “civil servants, holders of diplomatic, official or ordinary passports” can visit Kenya without visas “for a period not exceeding ninety (90) days.”
This comes a month after Interior CS Nkaissery, and South African Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba announced some relaxations on visa rules for Kenyans. Following their meeting, Kenyans passing through South Africa will not require a transit visa, as previously witnessed. The officials said this at a joint press conference in Nairobi last month.
When South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma made his three-day state visit to Kenya last October, he shared his concerns over visa policies noting that gaps had to be sealed to avoid illegal activities. “We have to ensure that there are no loopholes for criminals to take advantage of.”
Coming on the heels of the Africa Visa Openness Index, the new direction by Kenya gives hope to Africans as the continent moves towards opening up its borders for easier movements across the continent.
By opening up borders, Africa will allow its citizens to move freely across the region be it for leisure, business, or education.
The latest Index shows that up to 20 countries have relaxed visa rules in the past two years since the first issue in 2016. The Index is a collaborative effort between the African Development Bank, the African Union Commission and the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Africa.
Due to some countries having reviewed their rules to “no visas” for African travelers, the number of visas on arrival fell, the Index further explained.
East Africa still leads the region with the highest number of countries being more visa-open. 40 percent of East Africa’s countries are lenient on visa rules, 35 percent are in West Africa, 20 percent in Southern Africa while North Africa has just 5 percent. Central Africa, however, missed out in the top 20 most visa-open countries.
Although Nairobi has expressed its generosity towards South Africans, Kenyans still await reciprocity on visa issuance and relaxation of rules from Pretoria.
Welcoming the Index, Pierre Guislain, vice president, private sector, infrastructure and industrialization, African Development Bank, noted that more has to be done to grow the efforts further. “…we cannot stop here. Visa openness policies are the result of strong leadership and political will, citing recent decision to offer visas on arrival for most African countries. Efforts need to be reinforced and not reversed.”