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Economy

Kenya rises in visa friendly States ranking

An immigration official
An immigration official serves travellers at the JKIA in Nairobi. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU | NMG 

Kenya climbed six places to rank ninth last year in the Africa Visa Openness Index which measures how easy it is for visitors to enter a country.

The index, published by African Development Bank (Afdb), shows that Kenya climbed from its 15th spot in 2017.

The multilateral development finance institution attributed Kenya’s improvement to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive in 2017 to issue visas to African nationals on arrival at the country’s various ports of entry.

"Kenya moved up six places into the top 10 countries in the Africa Visa Openness Index in 2018," AfDB said in the report.

"The country’s improved score follows its new visa-on-arrival policy for all Africans, which was highlighted in President Kenyatta’s inauguration speech in November 2017."

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Seychelles, Benin and Rwanda, which ranked first, second and third respectively, also offer visa-open access to all Africans.

Eight countries in the top most visa-open countries are in East Africa (Comoros, Djibouti, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Uganda and Tanzania.

Western Saharan countries are the least accessible, followed by Equatorial Guinea and Sudan.

The Africa Visa Openness Index measures how open African countries are when it comes to visas by looking at what they ask of citizens from other countries in Africa when they travel.

It aims to show at a glance which countries are facilitating travel for citizens of other countries and how; whether they allow people to travel to their country without a visa, if travellers can get a visa on arrival in the country, or if visitors need to get a visa before travel.

Data on visa openness was collected in June and July 2018.The primary source of information was the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The Africa Visa Openness Index is tracking changes in country scores over time to show which countries are making improvements that support freer movement of people across Africa.

In future editions, the report will look at how countries are facilitating visa openness by cutting time, reducing costs, or simplifying the visa process as well as how far a visitor’s experience on the ground matches up to the agreements or visa policies in place on paper.

Kenya’s decision to offer visa-open access to all Africans is aimed at promoting more open borders across the continent and to boost trade, security and Africa-wide integration.

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