South Africa, Kenya agree on long-term visas

By Hassan Isilow

JOHANNESBURG (AA) – South Africa will introduce long-term multiple entry visas for Kenyan citizens visiting the country effective next month, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said Monday.

“We want to ensure free movement for the purposes of promoting tourism and business in our countries,” Gigaba said after meeting with Kenya’s Cabinet secretary for the interior, Fred Matiang’i.

Under the change, businesspeople would get 10-year multiple-entry visas, frequent travelers would get three-year entry visas, and students would get a visa lasting the duration of their studies.

Africans citizens traveling to Kenya for a period of less than a month would not need a visa.

Matiang’i said he had fruitful discussions with Gigaba aimed at improving bilateral relations.

“South Africa is one of our critical partners and today we have made a huge achievement,” he said.

The two nations also agreed that Kenyan government officials traveling to South Africa on official business will be granted three-month visas free of charge.

– Breaking down barriers

The African Union has been championing the removal of travel barriers among African nations through the introduction of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

Some African leaders have also been thinking about the viability of a pan-African passport.

Many countries on the continent still require visas for fellow Africans visiting their countries.

However, experts say if African nations want to increase trade amongst each other and export human capital, they should break down colonial-era barriers that have long restricted movement across the continent.