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Kenya plans abolishing visa requirements for foreign nationals

Kenya is considering abolishing visa requirements for all international visitors. President William Ruto recently said that the African nation is considering abolishing any visa requirement in a few months, according to reports.

Addressing the delegates at the recently concluded Africa Climate Summit at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi, Ruto said that it is unfair to require visas from “anybody coming home”, according to a Citizen Digital report.

President Ruto, addressing the delegates, emphasised Kenya’s historical significance as the place where humanity originated. He stated that “Kenya is home to all,” referencing the scientific discovery that the earliest human remains on Earth were found within the borders of the African nation. He went on to say that it is unjust to require visas from individuals visiting their ancestral home, according to the Africa Report.

“We should eliminate borders and turn them into bridges to promote trade and investment on our continent,” President Ruto declared, signalling his commitment to regional cooperation and open borders.

This move follows recent actions by Kenya to waive visa restrictions for nationals of several countries, including Indonesia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Comoros, and most recently, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which joined the East African Community in 2022.

President Ruto’s announcement has drawn mixed reaction from different sections. Sylvain Obedi, a disability rights promoter and gender equality advocate, celebrated the decision, highlighting the newfound ease of travel between Kenya and the DRC. He praised it as a remarkable achievement for both nations, demonstrating their commitment to the well-being of their populations.

However, not all voices have been in support of this policy shift. Boniface Mwangi, a Kenyan photojournalist and politician, expressed concern about the lack of public consultation on the matter. He argued that important policy changes should be thoroughly discussed and explained to the public before implementation. Mwangi also raised the issue of potential budget deficits resulting from the loss of visa fee collections.

Retired Chief Justice Willy Mutunga urged Kenyans to demand greater public participation in such decisions. He questioned how the nation could exercise its direct sovereign power without involving its citizens in discussions of this magnitude.

Many people who support this move on social media believe it could be the first step towards achieving the Pan-African Dream. Pan-Africanism is all about fostering a sense of unity and cooperation among people of African descent, regardless of whether they live in Africa or elsewhere. It’s the idea that people of African heritage share common interests and should come together.

After taking power in September 2022, President Ruto had said the his administration intends to eliminate visa restrictions for all African countries, according to the Africa Report.

Nonetheless, opponents of this decision contend that numerous countries generate substantial revenue from visa applications, and Kenya should not exempt itself from this practice. Moreover, they highlighted that the decision should not be solely based on scientific discoveries; instead, the government should carefully deliberate and engage with the general public before making a decision.

Source: CNBC TV 18



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