Kenyan President William Ruto has announced the impending removal of visa requirements for all African visitors by the end of this year.
Speaking at an international conference, President Ruto emphasized the need to eliminate visa restrictions among African nations, stating that such restrictions are counterproductive.
The African Union (AU) has long pursued the goal of facilitating visa-free travel within the continent. Although there have been regional agreements and bilateral arrangements, progress towards completely unrestricted travel has been slow.
As of 2022, only Seychelles, The Gambia, and Benin permit entry to all African citizens without a visa, as per an AU-backed report.
However, according to the Africa’s Visa Openness Index, which measures the accessibility of African countries to visitors from other African nations, many countries have been making strides in simplifying entry procedures and reducing restrictions for certain nations. In 2022, Kenya ranked 31st out of 54 African states on this index.
President Ruto, speaking in Congo-Brazzaville, highlighted the adverse impact of visa restrictions on businesses, entrepreneurs, and travellers. He declared Kenya’s commitment to change this, stating, “As Kenya, by the end of this year, no African will be required to have a visa to come to Kenya.” This announcement was met with enthusiastic applause from conference attendees.
President Ruto emphasized the importance of not confining African youth within the borders of their own continent or Europe.
The President made this announcement during a summit focused on the conservation of the world’s largest rainforests.