Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau.
Kenyans are free to enter South Sudan without a visa following a bilateral deal that saw Nairobi opens its market to citizens of the neighbouring country in line with East African Community (EAC) rules.
Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau said the waiver takes effective immediately pending the signing of a labour agreement that will offer rules for foreign workers.
Mr Kamau said the move that comes at a time Kenya has also scrapped visa and permit requirements for South Sudan nationals is in line with existing integration protocol at the East African Community (EAC).
“The Republic of Kenya has waived the requirement of obtaining a visa to enter Kenya for the citizens of the Republic of South Sudan who hold a valid Passport issued by the Government of the Republic of South Sudan,” said Mr Kamau in a statement yesterday.
“Premised on the principle of reciprocity, the Republic of South Sudan has also waived visa requirements for Kenyans wishing to visit their country.”
South Sudan in 2016 become the sixth member of the East African Community (EAC) block after President Salva Kiir signed an ascension treaty in Tanzania’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam.
It however lagged behind in adopting crucial protocols of the Community including the Customs Union and the Common Market Protocol, which allow harmonisation of levies, exemption of certain taxes on goods in the region and visa-less movement in the region.
It owed about $20 million as at the last Summit in February, although Juba promised to clear the deficit gradually.
Juba initially granted visas to visiting Kenyans at the airport or point of arrival. But it changed the policy in May, requiring travellers to apply online and travel only once the visas had been granted.
It argued it was safeguarding revenue leakages at the time.
The waiver comes barely a few months after South Sudan President Salva Kiir appealed to the neighboring countries for a visa waiver, particularly between South Sudan on one hand and Kenya and Uganda on the other.
President Kiir believes easing movement restrictions would facilitate trade and investment in the region.
The three East African countries charge about Sh5, 422 ($50) for a single-entry visa for ordinary citizens.
The Central Bank of Kenya data, sourced from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), shows that last year, exports to countries classified as “others”, including South Sudan, rose at the sharpest pace of 23.13 percent to Sh53.62 billion. – businessdailyafrica.com