By O’brien Kimani
Trade between Kenya and South Africa is expected to deepen after the two countries agreed to relax tough visa requirements that have impacted negatively on trade volumes.
South African Minister for Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba says South Africa will relax visa restrictions to Kenyan traders with Kenya expected to give South African business people preferential treatment.
Since the year 2011, trade between Kenya and South Africa has been on a decline, hurt by diplomatic spats leading to frosty relations between Nairobi and Pretoria.
Latest statistics from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics indicate that imports from South Africa to Kenya declined from a high of 70.7 billion shillings in 2011 to 62.3 billion shillings while Kenya sold goods worth 4.3 billion shillings to South Africa from a high of 6 billion shillings in 2014.
This has been attributed to visa restrictions placed by South Africa on Kenyans travelling to the Southern Africa nation.
This has forced Kenya to hit back demanding that South Africans willing to visit Kenya lodge visa applications one week before their travel.
The two African giants have now agreed to relax restrictions to facilitate trade between Nairobi and Pretoria.
South African Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba says Kenyan business people and those in pursuing studies will get a 10- year multiple entry visa to South Africa, in a bid to boost bilateral ties.
The raft of measures also allows for Kenyan applicants to seek permanent residency visas in South Africa as part of exporting talent to the country.
In addition, holders of diplomatic and official passports will have visa exemption, while frequent travelers will hold a multiple entry visa for three-years. Frequent business and academic travelers will hold a 10-year multiple entry visa.