South Africa scraps short-term visa requirements for Kenyans

Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, Dr. Fred Matiang’i, and South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba, disclose in Pretoria.

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This is a result of Kenya and South Africa agreeing to ease visa application rules and entry conditions for the above categories following extensive deliberations between the two governments.

Discussions with South Africa on visa restrictions have been ongoing and have seen both Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and Cyril Ramaphosa discuss the issue extensively.

Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, Dr. Fred Matiang’i, and South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba, made the announcement in Pretoria earlier today.

The agreement reflects the doctrine of reciprocity after Kenya set up a more responsive and straightforward online application process for short-term visas for visitors from all African countries, a move that President Uhuru Kenyatta envisioned would foster Pan-African brotherhood and fraternity.

Similarly, government officials travelling on official business to South Africa will be granted 3 months free VISA with immediate effect.

Kenyan Government’s proposal of issuance of study visas based on the duration of studies and renewal on application when need arises was also granted, a big win for Kenyans pursuing studies in South Africa.

The move comes as Kenya’s immigration department steps up efforts to streamline immigration services through automation of immigration services, digitization of immigration records, and the establishment of the e-passport system.

Currently, Africans visiting Kenya for a period of less than 30 days do not require Kenyan visas while those intending to stay longer are issued with visas on arrival at the point of entry or through the online e-visa platform.

In recent years, Kenya has intensified her effort to balance trade books with South Africa, which is Africa’s second biggest economy, and has been lobbying for the removal of tariffs, non-tariff trade barriers, among other issues which continue to inhibit trade.

Kenya’s main exports to South Africa which include tea, soda ash, cut flowers, avocado, detergents, processed cashew and macadamia nuts, among others.

With Kenya’s National carrier, Kenya Airways, which recently made an historic non-stop flight from Nairobi to New York, already doing an average of three non-stop flights from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to South Africa daily, the latest development is expected to enhance integration and unlock the two countries’ tourism and business potential.

The two countries have also agreed to step up joint efforts in combating illegal immigration and also protect the integrity of each other’s travel documents.

Technical officers from both countries have since been tasked with finding ways of reducing travel restrictions, with a view of completely removing short term (180) days) and transit visa requirements for nationals from the two countries with ordinary passports. The technical teams have 3 months to complete their assignment.

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