Macharia Kamau (www.samrack.com)
- The commencement of visa-free entry for Kenyans into South Sudan is a positive step towards maximising the gains of a seamless market arrangement.
- Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary, Macharia Kamau, confirmed the waiver takes effect immediately pending the signing of a labour agreement.
The commencement of visa-free entry for Kenyans into South Sudan is a positive step towards maximising the gains of a seamless market arrangement by member States of the East African Community (EAC).
Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary, Macharia Kamau, confirmed the waiver takes effect immediately pending the signing of a labour agreement that will offer rules for foreign workers.
It comes at a time Kenya has also scrapped visa and permit requirements for South Sudan’s nationals.
This is a big win for the regional bloc. Already citizens of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda do not require a visa to travel to or through East Africa.
By joining the visa-free entry arrangement within the EAC, South Sudan expands opportunities for tourism and business travel, which is critical for economic and social progression.
The action by South Sudan, which became the sixth member of the bloc in 2016, also raises hope that it will conclude the adoption of other EAC integration protocols such as the Customs Union and the Common Market Protocol, which allow harmonisation of levies, exemption of certain taxes on goods and visa-less movement in the region.
Under article 104 of the EAC Common Market Treaty, partner countries have committed to ensuring free movement of persons, labour, and services and to ensure the realisation of the right of establishment and residence of their citizens within the community.
Article 5 particularly provides for the facilitation of the rights and freedoms of citizens; ease of cross border movement of persons and adaption of integrated border management; removal of restrictions on the movement of labuor; services and the right of establishment and residence.
We hope the commitment by South Sudan to free travel for Kenyans will hold such that we don’t have cases of bureaucratic restrictions at the points of entry and exit.
New schemes are always fraught with teething problems and the South Sudanese government should follow up with its immigration teams to ensure the waiver is fully implemented.
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