KNCCI de­cries SA’s tough visa rules

The cur­rent trade pro­vi­sions are largely seen to be in favour of the con­ti­nent’s sec­ond largest and South­ern­most state

The Star (Kenya) - - News - WEITERE MWITA @as­dsa

Dif­fi­cul­ties by Kenyans in ac­quir­ing visa to South Africa is hin­der­ing trade be­tween the two coun­tries, the Kenyan busi­ness com­mu­nity has said. The cur­rent trade pro­vi­sions are largely seen to be in favour of the con­ti­nent’s sec­ond largest and South­ern­most state. The Kenyan Na­tional Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try said Kenyans are still go­ing through a te­dious process to get cleared to South Africa, as op­posed to their coun­ter­parts who can get visa upon ar­rival at the Jomo Keny­atta In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

“If we can be able to eas­ily fly to South Africa and come back, you will see a huge growth in busi­ness. Kenyans want to come to South Africa and do busi­ness,” KNCCI chair­man Kiprono Ki­tonny told a Kenya-South Africa busi­ness del­e­ga­tion on Fri­day dur­ing a bi­lat­eral meet in Nairobi.

He said Kenyans should be able to get visa’s upon ar­rival in South Africa, not­ing that dif­fi­cul­ties in ac­cess­ing the travel doc­u­ment has pushed many Kenyans to Dubai, hin­der­ing growth of in­tra-Africa trade.

“‘Ethiopia has done it and I don’t see why we should not do it. Those who have le­git­i­mate com­mer­cial in­ter­est should not be go­ing through that very dif­fi­cult visa regime,” he said.

The value of South Africa’s im­ports to Kenya in 2015 dropped to Sh61.31 bil­lion last year from Sh63.89 bil­lion in 2014, ac­cord­ing to the Kenya Eco­nomic Sur­vey 2016. Kenya’s ex­ports to South Africa also de­clined to Sh4.33 bil­lion from Sh5.9 bil­lion in 2014.

The busi­ness com­mu­nity is how­ever up­beat the high level talks ini­ti­ated dur­ing pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s visit two weeks ago, will un­lock visa rules for Kenyans by South Africa gov­ern­ment and boost bi­lat­eral trade.

“I think the steps to­wards that di­rec­tion are be­ing made but of­course we want a lot more,” Kit­tony said.

On May 3, Kenya’s In­te­rior CS Joseph Nkaissery and South African Home Af­fairs Min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba an­nounced an agree­ment that will see Kenyan in­vestors ben­e­fit from a 10year mul­ti­ple en­try visa for fre­quent busi­ness trav­ellers.

SA Depart­ment of Home Af­fairs an­nounced among other things, it will also ex­empt visas for hold­ers of diplo­matic and of­fi­cial pass­ports. It will also is­sue a three-year mul­ti­ple en­try visa for fre­quent trav­el­ers. The ser­vice fee for visa ap­pli­ca­tions will also be cut from $71 (Sh7,156 ) to $49 (Sh4,938 ), the depart­ment said.

The deal, which is yet to be fully im­ple­mented, is ex­pected to rekin­dle growth of trade flows be­tween the two coun­tries, which suf­fered a blow af­ter South Africa in­tro­duced strin­gent travel mea­sures in 2014.

Ar­eas the Kenyan busi­ness del­e­ga­tion tar­gets, Kit­tony said, in­clude man­u­fac­tur­ing, tourism and real es­tate sec­tors.

KenIn­vest gen­eral man­ager Pius Rotich said the gov­ern­ment has made it easy to set up busi­ness, aimed at at­tract­ing in­vest­ments to Kenya.

/ FILE

Kenyan Na­tional Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try chair­man Kiprono Kit­tony

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