Missed single Visa deadline seen as blow to COW members


(Posted 02nd January 2014)

The much fanfared introduction of a common single tourist Visa for foreign tourists coming to Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, has started the new year with a postponement, as none of the three countries apparently was ready to launch on January 01st, this being a public holiday across the region.

A similar delay is also hitting citizens of the three countries who attempted to travel by using their national ID card, it was reported back from Entebbe International Airport, as again the logistics inspite of several months of preparation, had not been put into place.

At the last meeting in mid December of the working group, held in Kigali as Rwanda had been tasked to take the lead and prepare for the introduction of a single tourist Visa, it was announced that all systems were ready for launch and there is now concern over tourists arriving and being told that the still have to pay for Visa for each and every country, from among the three, costing a family of four for instance another 200 US Dollars over and above what they may have budgeted.

Local tourism stakeholders, at least those who were already aware of the failed launch, expressed a range of comments, from disappointment to outright condemnation for having been misled and having published the availability of the common Visa from New Year’s Day 2014 on their websites and in mailings to clients expected to come to Uganda but also visit Rwanda and Kenya at the same time. ‘This may leave my company exposed to a claim of 50 dollars each client. I told them they buy their 100 dollar Visa in Entebbe and then no longer bother to get Visa for Rwanda and Kenya. Now that turned out to be a fake date. These bureaucrats should watch their mouth what they say and promise. I am sure they all went for the end year holidays and now there is a mess to sort out, it makes us look like morons who do not know what we are doing’ ranted an Entebbe based source after being confronted with the issue yesterday morning.

No affirmative date could be ascertained when the new arrangements, for the citizens of the three countries to travel by using their national ID cards nor for tourist visitors would be ready, and if the new system is still being launched in January or at a later stage. This development will leave egg over the faces of officials from the so called ‘Coalition of the Willing’, i.e. Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya, which broke ranks with fellow EAC partners Tanzania and Burundi over the introduction of a single Visa, as those two, aka ‘Coalition of the Unwilling’ may well be strengthened in their resolve to stay out of the fast tracking, considering that a simple issue like the single Visa ended up with a failed deadline. Watch this space for breaking and regular news from across Eastern Africa.

Following this article feedback was received from Kigali which I wish to publish here, though with the rider that the sources in Uganda insist on their initial description of the circumstances. One tried to leave on the 01st January on the 5 am flight to Nairobi, using his 2006 voters card which was permitted under these ID travel arrangements as Uganda still has no national ID’s in place for all but a selected few – and both the airline and immigration reportedly insisted on a passport which that traveller had, though wanted to test the new arrangements. The same applied to the group of tourists who arrived and had to purchase a single entry Visa for Uganda. If the arrangements worked in Rwanda, it would be a positive example of focused implementation but meanwhile even the Kenyan media have reported that they might need at least a week there to get ready – a clear sign of disparities and variances in the state of readiness. Perhaps the Ugandan and Kenyan immigration departments could publish details how many common Visa they have issued since January 01 and how many COW citizens have been processed at airports using ID’s or Voter’s Cards in the case of Uganda. 

Start quote:

I wanted to let you know that we have information and facts that the ID was used at our border which is different from your report this morning. Please let us know where they may have been issues and since we also have evidence of it working, do refer to it. As you may have noticed on twitter a user also mentioned he had just used his ID. This was retweeted by Immigration as well.


Concerning the single tourist visa, we also have the link for the e-visa that includes this as you can see below.  https://www.migration.gov.rw/index.php?id=28

I hope you will be able to rectify or at least update with new information about the actual situation.


I look forward to hearing from you soon and hope we can make East Africa and tourism shine while of course making suggestions for improvement where needed.