Kenyans wave their national flag at the event marking the east African country’s 60th independence anniversary celebrations on Tuesday in Nairobi. President Ruto extended invitation to the world by declaring, "Kenya has a simple message to humanity: Welcome Home!"/Photo: Kenyan Presidency

Kenya becomes visa-free for all visitors from January 2024

“Beginning January 2024, Kenya will be a visa-free country. It shall no longer be necessary for any person from any corner of the globe to carry the burden of applying for a visa to come to Kenya,” President William Ruto announced Tuesday during the 60th independence anniversary celebration in Nairobi, the capital.

The effect of the landmark move means it will no longer be necessary for any person from any corner of the world to apply for a visa to enter Kenya.

This visionary step, which is is expected to boost tourism and business, aligns with the Kenyan leader’s long-standing advocacy for visa-free travel within the African continent.

President Ruto had previously outlined his plans for visa exemptions at a conference in the Republic of Congo in October, where he declared that citizens of African countries would be able to visit Kenya without a visa by the end of 2023.

“As Kenya, by the end of this year, no African will be required to have a visa to come to Kenya. Our children from this continent should not be locked in borders in Europe and also be locked in borders in Africa,” he said as quoted by BBC. “It is time we… realise that having visa restrictions amongst ourselves is working against us,” he added.

Only Seychelles, The Gambia and Benin have been offering entry to all African citizens without a visa in the continent with Rwanda recently following in the footsteps of the three African countries.

Kenya now joins Rwanda, which in November announced visa-free travel for all Africans, in a move to enhance regional economic cooperation and strengthen ties among African nations.

Analysts also say the visa-free policy will boost Kenya’s efforts to become a major air travel hub in the continent.

To implement the visa-free policy, the Kenyan leader said his government had adopted a digital platform to ensure that all travelers to the country are identified in advance through an electronic platform. This means that all travellers will only need to obtain electronic travel authorisation before visiting the country which is known worldwide for its tourist attraction sites.

Adira Kallo

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