March 02, 2014 (Nairobi,Xinhua) — Kenya and South Sudan on Wednesday reached agreement to allow Kenyans to travel with ease when they visit the world’s youngest nation.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who returned from a day-long visit to Juba, said Kenyans visiting South Sudan will now no longer have to apply for visas in Nairobi or any other cities under a deal he struck during his visit.
“This is an important development for Kenya and the region. It shows that we are prepared to walk the talk,” said President Kenyatta soon on arrival from Juba.
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir agreed to a request that Kenyans be granted visas at the border or entry points in a move that will sharply cut on waiting time during visa processing and will boost cross-border visits.
Kenya’s northern neighbor is still an important trading partner despite the current conflict. South Sudan officials said that of the Kenyans evacuated in December and January at the height of the crisis, already 14,000 had returned to South Sudan.
Kenyatta said the visa deal is significant in terms of recent gains in Northern Corridor Infrastructure talks that partly seek to see the free movement of people, goods and services in the region.
The move comes after a regional summit last week launched the special visa for use in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, where Kenya was directed to ensure that the sample was ready in two weeks’ time to share with member states for input.
The regional leaders also directed ministers of finance, foreign affairs and internal affairs to meet and agree on the special visa fees account.
The three East African nations have agreed that their citizens use individual country’s nation ID cards to cross each other’s borders. The countries have also come up with a single tourist visa for visitors in the region.
The moves have been lauded by partner states as they are expected to cut down on bureaucracy and ease movement of goods and people.