Government officials of Kenya and South Sudan have announced that they are abolishing visa requirements between the two countries.
This means that citizens of South Sudan no longer require a Kenya visa to visit their neighbour in Eastern Africa, and vice versa.
South Sudanese citizens can now enter Kenya without a visa, provided they hold a passport valid for at least six months from the date of arrival. The same applies to Kenya with travellers now able to enter the country simply by presenting a valid Kenyan passport at border control.
Macharia Kamau, Principal Secretary for Foreign Affairs for Kenya, confirmed that the visa is in effect immediately. The measure is expected to greatly boost tourism within East Africa.
South Sudan welcomes the move
Deng Dau Deng, the South Sudan Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said his government was content with this development.
“Our President, Salva Kiir last year, in a summit of the East African Community [EAC], extended a request to President Uhuru Kenyatta for a visa waiver between the two countries and in the spirit of EAC protocols. The Kenyan government has responded to it,” he said.
Likewise, a statement issued by the Kenyan government asserted that the agreement would only further “the warm and cordial relations between the Republic of Kenya and the Republic of South Sudan”. Additionally, the workers of the two partner states will be allowed to accept employment within each other’s territory.
The next step would be to finalise a labour agreement that will give South Sudanese expatriates special employment privileges in Kenya, said Kamau.
Visa-free travel between Kenya and South Sudan will further boost the EAC
The visa waiver agreement marks the latest development in the long-term plan to remove travel restrictions and create a common airspace in East African Community member states.
Kamau said the measure was in line with the existing Common Market Protocol integration protocol of the East African Community. It follows the recent signing of a tourism partnership between Kenya and Rwanda, which similarly aims to boost the tourist economy of both countries.
South Sudan has been part of the EAC since 2016 but has yet to fully adopt some crucial protocols, including the Common Market Protocol and the Customs Unions. While a visa-waiver agreement has now been signed with Kenya, it has yet to finalise visa-exempt measures with some other EAC states.
COVID-19 restrictions between Kenya and South Sudan still in place
While citizens of South Sudan can now travel to Kenya without a visa, they still need to meet the COVID-19 entry requirements.
At present, South Sudanese nationals need to complete an online ‘Traveller’s Health Surveillance Form’ for Kenya in advance of departure. They then need to present the QR code generated on arrival at Kenyan border control alongside their valid passport.
Additionally, all arriving passengers aged five and over need to present a medical certificate in English showing a negative COVID-19 PCR test. The test must have been taken at most 96 hours before arrival. Passengers may also be subject to medical screening and quarantine.
South Sudanese passport holders who have been in India within the previous 14 days will not be permitted to enter Kenya. Only Kenyan nationals and permanent residents are currently permitted to arrive from India, and they are subject to a COVID-19 antigen test upon arrival.
There are fewer document requirements in place for Kenyans who wish to travel to South Sudan, requiring only a printed negative PCR test result in either English or Arabic, taken at least 96 hours before departure. It is also mandatory for passengers from Kenya to self-isolate for 14 days upon their arrival in South Sudan.