S.Africa and Kenya's tit-for-tat visa regulations - CNBC Africa

S.Africa and Kenya's tit-for-tat visa regulations

Special Report

by Elayne Wangalwa 0

It's about to become a lot harder, and more expensive, for South Africans travelling to Kenya. PHOTO: Home Affairs

From 1 September this year, South Africans will require a visa to travel to Kenya according to a directive issued by the Kenyan High Commission. The new regulations were announced on the commission’s website. 

According to Simon Allison, a senior reporter for Africa at the Daily Maverick, these petty, tit-for-tat regulations don't seem to be in anyone's interest. 

“Both countries have imposed these really onerous visa restrictions on each other. What I find amazing is that they all talk about pan Africanism, they talk a about regional integration, they are talking about how we need to facilitate trade. These are all the things that will save Africa and I think they are right but they are not walking the walk,” Allison told CNBC Africa. 

In the past, South Africans traveling to Kenya for 30 days or less have over the years been exempt from the visa requirements.

The new rules require South Africans to have a return air ticket and part with 750 South African rands.

Applicants are also now required to have a letter of invitation from Kenya, proof of funds available, and to appear in person for biometrics during a visa application in Pretoria. 

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“This will not help trade if Kenyan businessmen and South African businessmen struggle to get in and out of each other’s countries and the even crazier thing is that these visa restrictions apply even in transit,” Allison said.

South Africa’s government reviewed its immigration laws in May.

(READ MORE: Migration regulations to facilitate investment)

Foreign nationals with visitor’s visas wishing to extend a stay for longer than three months must provide a police clearance certificate from their home country.  Also it is no longer possible to change from a Visitor’s Visa to another visa category within South Africa.

According to Allison this almost exact replica of what the South African High Commission requires of Kenyans will not help Kenya revive its tourism sector. 

The number of international visitor arrivals to the East African country decreased from 1.7 million in 2012 to 1.5 million in 2013. Kenya is expected to have a further decline this year as a result of travel advisories by traditional tourist markets due to security concerns.

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