Kenya is set to end visa requirements to all visitors starting January in 2024 making it a visa-free country, President William Ruto has announced.
The latest development will now bring to an end the need to apply for a visa to visit the country to all citizens of the world.
The move comes hot on the heels of the announcement by the president that Kenya was to open her borders for visa-free travel by Africans at the end of December 2023.
Speaking on Tuesday during the 60th Jamhuri Day celebrations at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi, the president said starting January 2024, the government will abolish the requirement of visas for all visitors coming to Kenya.
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.
To implement the new policy, he said the state has developed a digital platform to ensure that all travelers to Kenya are identified in advance on an electronic platform.
This means that all travelers will only need to obtain electronic travel authorisation before visiting the country which is known for its tourist attraction sites.
“It is with great pleasure, as president of this extraordinary country, to make a historic announcement of the decision of the Government of Kenya. Beginning January 2024, Kenya will be a visa-free country,” Ruto said.
“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. To echo the call of the Turkana people to the world: “Tobong’u Lorre!” Kenya has a simple message to humanity: Welcome Home!” he added.
The move comes at a time when most countries are making progress towards simplifying entry processes and dropping restrictions on some other nations.
The new development is part of Kenya’s embracing globalisation and opening her borders to spur the socio-economic development of the country.
Ruto said Kenyans have never been shy to embrace globalisation and have time and again shown that they are not afraid of the world beyond the country’s borders.
“Our world, and the good in it, belongs to those who are not shy to embrace globalisation. We venture abroad fearlessly and warmly welcome our visitors from near and far.
“This is not by accident. The scientific historical account of early humanity is told by various archaeological sites in our country,” said Ruto.
“In short, we are the first home of all humanity, and we joyfully embrace our ancestral task of welcoming humanity home. Kenya is the home of humanity, a scientific fact that fills us with pride and underscores our rich heritage,” he added.
While speaking on December 9 during the Youth Connekt Africa Summit, Dr Ruto maintained that Africa should abolish visa requirements for its population.
He said the visa requirements were brought about by European nations which have since abandoned them.
He said Kenya is in full support of the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which seeks to create a borderless market for African entrepreneurs and businesses.
The AfCFTA, established in 2021, has created a unified market for the continent's 1.3 billion people and boasts an estimated value of $3.4 trillion.
Ruto argued that doing away with Visa requirements will further boost economic integration on the continent.
Citing the example of Europe, he said the continent with a population of 450 million people has abolished visas for 27 countries.
“I am very persuaded, and we all know what borderless countries have done, the people who taught us about visas because we did not have visas, our good brothers from Europe came and taught us about visas and I addressed the European parliament a few weeks ago,” he said.
Speaking in Congo-Brazzaville in October this year, Dr Ruto said Kenya will end visa requirements to all African visitors by the end of the year, arguing that “when people cannot travel, we all become net losers”.
“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.