On Sunday 11 June 2023, Kenya and Djibouti agreed that all visa restrictions between the two countries would be lifted. This means that citizens of both countries can travel visa-free between the two countries. This does not apply to other countries. British and Irish travellers still have to apply for a visa for a trip to one of these countries.
Visa-free travel between Kenya and Djibouti possible
During a meeting of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on Sunday 11 June 2023, the Kenyan president, William Ruto, and the president of Djibouti, Ismael Guelleh, agreed to mutually lift all visa requirements for citizens of the other country. This means that travellers with the nationality of Kenya or Djibouti will no longer have to apply for a visa if they want to travel between the two countries. The decision was taken to allow freer movement of people between the countries in the East African region. Visa-free travel should also strengthen trade and, hence, economic ties and increase air traffic between the two countries.
Kenya wants to strengthen trade ties
To strengthen the economic position of Kenya and Djibouti, the heads of state of both countries have pledged to take the necessary measures to ensure that both countries can profit from this mutual visa agreement. For example, the Kenyan president has declared that he will sign labour agreements with Djibouti to further ensure labour migration between the two countries. Kenya has also pledged to support Djibouti in improving its language skills through courses and appointing adequate training staff. Djibouti, in turn, will do something similar for Kenya in terms of French language training.
Strengthening economic ties with neighbouring countries
For a long time, Kenya has been improving economic ties with its neighbouring countries. Visa relaxations were implemented to entice travellers from neighbouring countries to visit Kenia. A logical consequence of this is more travel and thus more money spent in the region, which is good for several East African countries.
With the recent addition of Djibouti to the list of countries with a visa-free agreement with Kenya, there are now 45 countries Kenyan travellers can travel to without having to apply for a visa or require a visa on arrival. Kenya, in turn, lifted the visa requirements for travellers from South Africa in January and did the same for travellers from Eritrea in February.
EA Tourist Visa contributes to stability in East Africa
In 2014, the East Africa Tourist Visa was introduced, a regional visa allowing travellers to visit multiple East African countries. At the moment, the participating countries are Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. There are also talks about allowing Tanzania to join the East Africa Tourist Visa programme. Whether Djibouti will also join the programme in the future is not yet known. The joint visa is meant to boost tourism by facilitating travel and to stimulate economic integration in the region. The East Africa Tourist visa can in many ways contribute to the stability in the region, although it is difficult to determine the direct impact.
Tourism makes an important contribution to the economy
First, the visa stimulates tourism, and the tourism sector makes an important contribution to the economies of the different East African countries. By stimulating tourism, the East Africa Tourist Visa helps generate income, create jobs, and boost economic growth. Economic stability, in turn, is closely linked to overall regional development, reduces poverty and strengthens social cohesion. In addition, the tourist visa promotes cooperation between participating countries. Equalising entry procedures and easing the movement of people between countries help promote mutual dialogue and regional integration.
The visa stimulates interaction
The visa also stimulates interaction between East African citizens and international travellers. Such interactions can contribute to cultural exchange, mutual understanding and tolerance, reducing social tensions and improving peaceful coexistence in the region. Additionally, the East African Tourist Visa offers the possibility of starting more joint initiatives and projects between the participating countries.
Cooperation in conservation and infrastructure improvement can lead to shared benefits and a sense of common purpose, further enhancing stability and cooperation. Finally, a successful and well-implemented visa programme can contribute to an improvement in the perception and image of the East African region as a safe, accessible and attractive destination for international tourists. A positive image can attract investments, promote regional stability and encourage international cooperation in various sectors.
Kenya visa still required for European travellers
The visa-free arrangement between Kenya and Djibouti only applies to travellers with the nationality of each of these countries. This means that all other international travellers who want to travel to one of these countries have to apply for a visa before departure. For a trip to Kenya, this can easily and quickly be done with an online application form.
Travellers from almost all European countries, including Ireland but also the United Kingdom and Switzerland, require a Kenya visa. The only exception to this is Cyprus. Everyone with Cypriot nationality can stay in Kenya for up to 90 days without a visa. Travellers who have a valid Kenya visa can also stay in the country for up to 90 days with this visa.