PRESIDENTS AFFIRM NEW TRAVEL REGIME FOR JANUARY 2014
(Posted 30th August 2013)
Host president Uhuru Kenyatta and his guests from Uganda and Rwanda, presidents Museveni and Kagame, at the just concluded Mombasa summit reaffirmed their decision to allow travel among the three countries for their citizens by using national ID cards from January next year, with all modalities to be in place by mid October this year. Progress will be reviewed it is understood when the next tripartite summit will take place in Kigali in two months time. The implementation plans also include the introduction of a regional Visa for tourists from overseas, who, should they opt for this, will have to pay 100 US Dollars as opposed to 50 US Dollars for a single country entry Visa as is the case at present.
It was not immediately clear though if expatriates duly registered with work permits or long term or lifelong residence permits in any of the three countries too will be exempted from having to pay for Visa when for instance entering Kenya from Uganda, or vice versa. If confirmed the new regime would be beneficial for in particular the coastal resorts in Kenya as a family of four could save up to 200 US Dollars in Visa fees, adding to spending money and drawing travelers away from Visa free destinations like the UAE or South Africa in favour of traveling in the region and spending local vacations nearer to home.
Overall was the move immediately applauded by the business community in the three member states of the East African Community, not just for the decision itself but for the courage, finally, to go tripartite and move ahead and leave those opposed to all and sundry proposals to move the integration of the community to follow at their own pace or else stay behind forever. Travel organizations too have expressed their delight to reduce travel documentation requirements from passport level to ID level, as it will allow more people to do trips across the region, by bus or air, as they can afford. Watch this space for future updates from what the next summit in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital will bring and how the implementation of these decisions is advancing.