Dr. Ruto apologized for the visa requirements to public and business sector leaders at a session on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in Nairobi on Monday.
“My minister [for Trade Moses Kuria] has informed me that somehow some of our officials made you pay visas to come home and asked me to apologize, which I do. When one comes home, they don’t pay to come home,” he said.
“I want to promise you that this might be the last time you are looking for a visa to come to Kenya because of two reasons. Number one, because this is home, and number two, we support wholeheartedly the AfCFTA. We must remove any impediments to the movement of people around our continent,” he added.
In November 2017, Dr. Ruto’s predecessor made it possible for any African traveling to Kenya to obtain a visa upon arrival. At the time of Kenya’s action, Rwanda had just issued a similar instruction in the name of pan-Africanism without requiring reciprocity from other nations.
His statement back then reads, “For my fellow Africans, the free movement of people on our continent has always been a cornerstone of pan-African brotherhood and fraternity. The freer we are to travel and live with one another, the more integrated and appreciative of our diversity we will become.”
Nairobi has long advocated for the elimination of trade restrictions between African nations in order to facilitate the free movement of people, products, and services through integrating regional economic blocs.
As part of the efforts to promote the flow of products under preferential trading, which began on January 1, 2021, Kenya was one of the nations chosen to take part in the pilot phase of the AfCFTA Initiative on Guided Trade last year. Ghana, Cameroon, Egypt, Mauritius, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Tunisia made up the other nations.
Africa’s underdeveloped transportation systems are to blame for the rising prices of products and services by up to 40%, making intra-African commerce less profitable than trading with other industrialized continents like Europe.