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Ruto now hints at visa-free Kenya for other Africans

President William Ruto at the National Defense College in Nairobi on May 25, 2023. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

President William Ruto has hinted that Africans within the continental free trade area may not need visas when visiting Kenya in the near future.

Speaking during the launch of the dialogue between the private sector and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) ministers, the president also made a projection of what he expects from the three-day Council of Ministers meeting.

“I want to promise you that that might be the last time you are looking for a visa to come to Kenya. This is home, and we must remove any impediments to the movement of people around our continent,” said Dr Ruto.

The head of state also underscored the involvement of the private sector towards Africa’s social-economic transformation.

This is as he pointed out how the complicated and delicate and uncertain global geopolitical environment has exerted disruptive pressures on businesses.

He said that African societies are prone to negative impacts of events taking place in faraway places, for instance, the Ukraine war.

According to Dr Ruto, Africa needs to urgently work its way steadily from the bottom of the global value chains by unlocking its full potential.

He also noted that the Intra-Africa trade is remarkably low amid low investment in infrastructure connectivity. 

“The bulk of Africa’s imports and exports relate to markets outside the continent,” said the President. 

Dr Ruto also asked the delegates to discuss the implementation of a seamless African air transport market.

“There is a conversation between Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Rwanda on how we can consolidate our air transport. This will encourage private sector investment in air transports and enhance penetration enhanced,” he said. 

He also added that there are ongoing talks between Kenya, Uganda, and DRC to connect the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic.

Azali Assoumani, President of the Comoros and AU chairperson for 2023 called for proper coordination to grow intra-African trade.

To overcome challenges within AfCFTA, Assoumani said the continent needs to develop a favourable ecosystem for goods and services in our integrated markets.

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