South African government officials have confirmed that a team set up in November to address easing travel restrictions between Kenya and South Africa is finalizing agreements that will see Kenyans granted Visa-free access to South Africa.
Details of the agreement were revealed by South Africa’s International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor, who is part of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s delegation in a trip to four countries in West Africa.
“We are just about to finalise visa-free access to Kenyans,” Pandor told Daily Maverick in Accra, Ghana.
As part of the deal, South Africa will deport illegal immigrants in their country who transited through Kenya back to Kenya. In a country where xenophobia is a key political talking point, the Ramaphosa administration has been keen to shore up points on immigration while easing travel and trade barriers with countries including Kenya.
Pandor failed to offer a timeline of the implementation of the eased restrictions for Kenya. She explained that the agreement would likely see the issuance of an e-Visa.
“We have now signed agreements on returning illegal entrants (to Kenya), so now we are moving towards granting an e-visa which we have piloted in India and which is working quite well,” Pandor stated.
The South Africa eVisa is being tested but is not available to all travellers from India yet. The electronic system is meant to make it quicker and easier for Indian passport holders to visit South Africa.
How it works is Indians travelling to South Africa apply for an eVisa online which they receive in their email within three business days.
If Pandor’s latest statements are anything to go by, a similar system will be established for travelers from Kenya once the agreement comes into effect.
The joint team addressing travel restrictions between Kenya and South Africa was unveiled during President Uhuru Kenyatta’s three-day state visit to SA in November aimed at strengthening bilateral relations. Other deals signed during the meeting included the strategic partnership framework by South Africa Airlines and Kenya Airways.
The framework will see the firms establish a Pan-African airline group in 2022.