Kenya's electronic visa-free system lauded as a game-changer for trade and tourism

Kenya has announced that it will introduce a visa-free entry policy for all visitors from January 2024, making it the first African country to do so.


The policy, which was unveiled by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday, aims to boost tourism and trade by removing the hassle and cost of visa applications and approvals.


To facilitate visa-free entry to Kenya, government authorities have introduced a digital platform for obtaining electronic travel authorization before visitors arrive. This eliminates the need for visa applications and approvals, ensuring a seamless and expedited entry process.


The electronic travel authorization, which will replace the Kenya eVisa system for short term travel that was introduced in 2021, will be valid for 90 days and can be extended for another 90 days upon arrival.


Visitors will need to apply for the electronic travel authorization through an online platform that will be made available from January 2024. They will need to provide basic personal and travel information, as well as proof of vaccination against Covid-19 and other diseases.


The electronic travel authorization will be issued within minutes and will be sent to the visitor's email address. The visitor will need to present the electronic travel authorization along with their passport at the port of entry.


President Kenyatta said that the visa-free entry policy was a "game-changer" for Kenya's economy and international relations.


"We are opening our doors to the world and inviting everyone to experience the beauty and diversity of our country. We are confident that this policy will attract more tourists, investors, and traders to Kenya, creating more jobs and opportunities for our people," he said.


He added that the policy was also a gesture of goodwill and solidarity with the global community, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.


"We are showing our commitment to the ideals of global cooperation and integration. We are extending our hand of friendship and partnership to all nations and peoples. We are demonstrating our leadership and vision for a more prosperous and peaceful Africa and world," he said.


The visa-free entry policy has been welcomed by various stakeholders, including the tourism industry, the business sector, and the diplomatic community.


The Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF) said that the policy was a "major boost" for the tourism sector, which has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.


"This is a bold and visionary move by the government that will make Kenya more competitive and attractive as a tourist destination. It will also enhance the image and reputation of Kenya as a friendly and hospitable country," said KTF chairman Mohammed Hersi.


The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) said that the policy was a "milestone" for the trade and investment sector, which has been facing challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic.


"This is a progressive and innovative move by the government that will make Kenya more accessible and appealing as a trade and investment partner. It will also foster the growth and development of the regional and continental markets, especially the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)," said KEPSA CEO Carole Kariuki.


The United Nations (UN) said that the policy was a "remarkable" step for the international community, which has been striving to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Agenda 2063.


"This is a commendable and exemplary move by the government that will make Kenya more influential and supportive as a global player. It will also contribute to the advancement and realization of the global and continental agendas, especially the SDGs and the Agenda 2063," said UN Resident Coordinator Siddharth Chatterjee.



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