South Africa removes visa requirement for Kenyan travellers


South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, gestures during a joint address with Kenya's President William Ruto (not seen) after their meeting at the State House in Nairobi on November 9, 2022.  PHOTO | SIMON MAINA | AFP 

South Africa has removed visa requirements for Kenyans travelling to the southern African nation beginning January 2023 for a maximum of 90 days annually. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa who is in the country for a two-day official visit announced on Wednesday that an agreement had been reached to allow Kenyans to move without the travel document. 

"We have discussed the issue of visas between South Africa and Kenya, with a view to allowing Kenyans to visit South Africa on a visa-free basis. This will officially start on January 1, 2023 and it will be available to Kenyans for a 90-day period per year," he said. 

South Africans have since 2017 been able to visit Nairobi without a visa for up to 90 days. 

Kenya has long expressed discomfort with the many hurdles its citizens travelling to South Africa continue to face with little response from Pretoria.

In particular, Nairobi had raised concerns over the high costs of South African visas as well as the extended processing period, which currently takes at least five days.

South Africa claimed that its visa rules are meant to insulate it from irregular migration, a sore topic in a country that has suffered numerous bouts of xenophobic attacks against foreigners.

The decision could strengthen Kenya's passport which in July was ranked among the favourite in Africa. 

The latest data from Henley Passport Index Report released in July shows Kenya is at position 76th globally from 77th last year.

The mobility score, which measures the number of countries that a holder of a passport can travel to without a visa stood at 72.

Kenya's passport is ranked the most powerful after Seychelles, Mauritius, South Africa, Botswana, eSwatini, Malawi and Lesotho.

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