Visa-Free Travel: Kenya and DR Congo Strengthen Regional Ties

Visa Restrictions Lifted: Kenya and DR Congo's New Travel Agreement
PHOTO - The Star - Visa Restrictions Lifted: Kenya and DR Congo's New Travel Agreement
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In a reciprocal move, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has removed the need for Kenyan citizens to obtain visas when traveling to their country. This announcement was made by DRC’s Ministry of Interior, Security, and customary Affairs in a circular note sent to airline managers on September 1, 2023.

Roland Kashwantale Chihoza, the Head of the Directorate General of Migration (DGM) in DRC, signed the note, stating, “The Directorate General of Migration informs you that from September 1, 2023, nationals of the Republic of Kenya are exempt from entry visas to the Democratic Republic of Congo.”

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Kenya had previously eliminated visa requirements for DRC national passport holders five days before this announcement. This change aligns with the East Africa Community (EAC) regulations on the free movement of people within its member states, as confirmed by Evelyn Cheluget, the Director General of Immigration and Citizen Services.

To implement this directive, President William Ruto had already taken steps in July 2023, when he issued an order in response to DRC’s admission to the EAC in April 2022. Cheluget stated, “The government has removed DRC from Category 2 to Category 1 of the visa regulations.” This move affects regional heads, missions abroad, and officers in charge of border points.

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DRC became the seventh member of the EAC in April 2022 when it signed the Treaty of Accession at State House, Nairobi, under the leadership of Kenya’s former President Uhuru Kenyatta, who was then the EAC Chair. DRC’s membership was granted after it met the conditions outlined in Articles 3 and 4 of the Treaty for the establishment of the EAC.

Kenya’s decision to waive visa requirements aims to facilitate smoother and more cost-effective trade and travel between the two nations. This change is expected to benefit businesses and citizens across the region.

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