Kenya will remove visa requirement for Africans by the end of this year in a bid to promote trade and investment within the continent, President William Ruto said.
To accelerate the creation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Ruto said the region has to address the low levels of intra-African commerce.
He also called for the lowering of customs tariffs across Africa, in a speech at the Three Basins Climate Change Conference in Brazzaville, Congo.
“Having visa restrictions amongst ourselves is working against us. When people cannot travel, business people cannot travel, entrepreneurs cannot travel, we all become net losers,” he said on Saturday.
“We are now moving in the direction of eliminating visas amongst ourselves. Let me say this, as Kenya, by the end of this year, no African will be required to have a visa to come to Kenya.”
Kenya will open embassies in the Congo Republic, Ivory Coast, Morocco and Eritrea with the aim of improving trade, he said.
“It is time we realise the importance of trading amongst ourselves and allowing goods, services, people, ideas to move freely,” the president said.
African countries began officially trading under AfCFTA, a continent-wide free trade area in January 2021.
The bloc intends to unite more than one billion people in a $3 trillion economic bloc – the world’s largest free trade area since the World Trade Organization’s inception.
Ruto has previously backed de-dollarization to enhance Africa trade, and supported Kenya’s move to join a new platform known as the Pan African Payments and Settlement System (PAPSS) in September, a move lauded by the International Monetary Fund.
The platform allows trade between member countries through their local currencies and cuts the costs of dealing in US dollars or the euro.
Source : Zawya