Kenya’s President William Ruto announced plans to end visa requirements for all African visitors to Kenya by the end of the year. This significant move aligns with the African Union’s long-standing goal of promoting visa-free travel across the continent. Currently, only a few countries, including Seychelles, The Gambia, and Benin, permit entry to all African citizens without a visa.
While progress toward visa-free travel has been slow, the Africa Visa Openness Index indicates that most African countries are simplifying entry processes and reducing restrictions for visitors from other African nations. Kenya was ranked 31st out of 54 states in the index in 2022.
President Ruto emphasized the adverse impact of visa restrictions on business, explaining that they hinder travel for entrepreneurs and businesspeople. He expressed his commitment to ensuring that no African citizen would require a visa to enter Kenya by the end of the year, receiving enthusiastic applause from conference attendees in Congo-Brazzaville.
The African Union introduced the African passport in 2016, with the goal of enabling visa-free travel for all African citizens within the continent. However, this passport is not yet widely available due to concerns about security, smuggling, and its potential impact on local job markets.
While completely dropping visa requirements remains a challenging objective, the Visa Openness Index report suggests various measures, including reducing fees, implementing visa on arrival for African visitors, and establishing a secure e-visa system, to enhance ease of travel within Africa.