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
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.
Kenyan National Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairman Kiprono Kittony