Kenya will drop visa requirements for Djiboutians as Nairobi moves to ease the movement of people in the Horn of Africa and improve trade and air traffic between the two countries.
State House Nairobi announced the policy change after President William Ruto of Kenya met with his counterpart Omar Ismael Guelleh in Djibouti city on Sunday.
“To promote people-to-people interactions, trade, and investment, I am firmly committed to eliminating the barriers imposed by visa requirements for Djiboutian citizens travelling to Kenya,” Dr Ruto said at a joint press briefing with his host.
“Therefore, Kenya has concluded necessary procedures to enable visa-free visits for citizens of Djibouti to Kenya.”
Djiboutians will no longer be required to apply for online visas to visit Kenya as has been the tradition.
Kenya says it wants to remove immigration barriers to improve trade with neighbours. In February, Kenya removed visa requirements for Eritrea, which borders Djibouti to the southeast.
The actual implementation of the new policy shift will, however, depend on the Immigration Department, and it will not exempt travellers from other requirements, such as entering the Kenyan territory through legal channels and carrying valid passports.
“This is part of our contribution to easing the movement of people, goods and services in Africa,” President Ruto added, explaining the policy shift is reciprocal.
In October, Kenya negotiated the abolition of visa requirements with South Africa.
With the Djibouti immigration deal, Kenyans can now visit 45 African counties without a visa or at least get visas on arrival.
In Djibouti, Dr Ruto also said the two sides would revise their bilateral air agreement to boost traffic and resume direct flights between their capitals.
Dr Ruto is in Djibouti to attend the 14th Ordinary Session of Heads of State and Government of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad), a regional bloc of seven-member states in the Horn of Africa.
The conference is due on Monday to “discuss a range of issues critical to the region’s peace, security and development,” according to a notice by the Igad Secretariat in Djibouti.
With Sudan, the current chair, at war with itself, the summit is expected to discuss a regional solution to a conflict that has broken seven ceasefire deals.
Igad other member states are Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda and South Sudan.