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Inept Kenyan Immigration Slows ‘Visa-Free’ Dream

Inept Kenyan Immigration Slows ‘Visa-Free’ Dream
Airport control visa stamps in a passport. PHOTO: FILE.

Kenya’s Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) has contradicted President William Ruto’s recent announcement by stating that foreigners visiting Kenya must continue applying for visas until changes to the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) system are officially communicated.

In a statement, the KCAA explained that the ETA system is still under development, and once completed, the government will inform travelers of the changes.

President Ruto had declared a visa-free status for Kenya starting January 2024, citing the country’s status as the “home of humanity.”

However, the KCAA emphasized the need for the existing visa application process until the new system is implemented.

Inefficiency, delays and bribery at Kenya’s Immigration Department have for long been named as the barriers towards the country’s bid to open its borders.

Travizory Border Security SA, an independent Swiss company focused on facilitating seamless, secure digital border-crossing experiences for governments and travelers has been powering the Electronic Travel Authorisation portal.

And the frequent breakdown of the eCitizen platform, an online digital portal for validating government documents such as e-visas, hasn’t helped.

In July, the Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs had to grant Kenya-bound travellers visas on arrival, due to difficulties in online visa processing attributed to challenges in the eCitizen platform following a hacking attack.

“During this period, applicants from visa-required countries will not be able to submit or track new eVisa applications but can use any airline to enter Kenya under a visa-on-arrival, endorsed as a stamp in the entrant’s passport,” said Foreign Affairs PS Korir Sing’oei.

Services such as issuance of e-visas for foreigners have been on and off since July, suggesting the platform is not stable yet.

This has affected residents of neighbouring countries who want to do business in Kenya.

Normally, with proof of residential permits, they only need an e-visa application before they hop on a plane or bus


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