Kenyan President William Ruto has announced plans to eliminate visa requirements for all African visitors by the end of 2023 to enhance trade and foster closer economic ties with other African nations.
He made this announcement during his keynote address at the Three Basins Climate Change Conference in Brazzaville, Congo.
“By the end of this year, no African will need a visa to enter Kenya. The time has come to understand the importance of doing trade between us,” he said.
President Ruto also stressed the importance of addressing the current low levels of intra-African trade and put forward a proposal to reduce customs tariffs across the continent to accelerate the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
According to him, “It is time we realize the importance of trading among ourselves and allowing goods, services, people and ideas to move freely across the continent.” He added that trade among East African Community countries had grown significantly due to these initiatives.
Kenya recently eliminated visa requirements for Angolan citizens. During the African Private Sector Dialogue Conference on Free Trade in May, President William Ruto expressed that this move might signify the last occasion African delegates need to pay for visas when visiting Kenya.
Earlier in February, Kenya and Eritrea reached an agreement to permanently eliminate visa requirements for their citizens. In July, Kenya extended this privilege to nationals from Comoros and Senegal, allowing them to enter the country without visas. In August, Indonesia joined the list, becoming the third country within a month to receive visa-free access to Kenya.
The president also stressed the importance of acknowledging and incentivizing countries in tropical forest basins to protect their forests, underscoring the benefits of such actions for climate preservation.
The Amazon basin in South America, the Congo basin in Central Africa, and the Borneo-Mekong basin in Southeast Asia together make up 80 per cent of the world’s rainforests and house around two-thirds of its biodiversity.
These rainforests are crucial not only for their local ecosystems but also have a global impact by regulating the Earth’s climate and supporting life on our planet