While still reeling from the ongoing global economic turmoil and Covid-19 aftershocks, President William Ruto can comfortably boast of some achievements.
In his bag of accomplishments is a raft of diplomatic breakthroughs which include free-visa deals with five countries.
Among the countries with which Kenya has struck free-visa deals are four African countries and one Caribbean nation.
The countries are the Bahamas, Egypt, Eritrea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Africa.
According to the free-visa deal that Kenya signed with South Africa on November 10, 2022, citizens of the two countries are allowed to travel to each country without a visa for up to 90 days per calendar year.
However, the deal also spells out serious penalties for those who overstay their welcome or enter the countries illegally.
Kenyans had long complained of ill-treatment by their South African counterparts, especially, when it came to the visa processing duration and fees.
President William Ruto and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa witnessed the agreement signed by their respective ministries of foreign affairs that could end decades of complaints from Nairobi on immigration policies by South Africa.
Kenya and Egypt on Friday, March 10, 2023, agreed to a free visa regime for ordinary passport holders in both countries.
Foreign and Diaspora Affairs Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua stated that the deal will promote tourism, grow trade and support the free flow of people and goods. This will boost the economies of both states.
While meeting his Egyptian counterpart, Mutua noted that the deal is meant to create a borderless Africa as envisioned by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
“In line with the African vision of AfCFTA (African Continental Free Trade Area) we agreed on free visa entry for diplomatic & official passports of both countries from April 1st of this year and to start and finalize discussions towards a free visa regime for ordinary passports by October 1,” he stated.
Kenya and Eritrea on December 10, 2022, agreed to permanently scrap visa requirements for their citizens.
Speaking after witnessing the signing of the free-visa deal in Nairobi, Presidents William Ruto and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki explained that the move will catalyse trade between the two countries.
“We must have a regime that is free of barriers to further integration, strengthen connectivity and enhance regional trade," President Isaias noted.
President Ruto stated that trade between Kenya and Eritrea had been declining due to restrictions on customs and travel.
Ruto explained that as of the year ending 2020, the trade volume between Kenya and Eritrea stood at Ksh73.4 million, which is way lower than the Ksh257 million which was recorded in 2015.
Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo initiated a process in 2022 for the removal of visa requirements for citizens of the two countries.
The two countries also enhanced their visa regime and simplified requirements by setting a visa on arrival for their citizens.
The free-visa deal will be ratified before the end of the year 2023 when President William Ruto and his DR Congo counterpart, Felix Tshisekedi, are expected to meet to deliberate over a raft of other diplomatic agreements.
President William Ruto's government on Thursday, March 17, penned down a free visa deal with the Bahamas.
In a meeting that was held in London, Kenya's Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua and his Bahamian counterpart Frederick A. Mitchell signed an agreement on a free visa regime between the two countries.
While announcing the deal, Dr. Mutua noted that the new regime will kick off on May 1, 2023, when Kenyans will be allowed to travel to the Bahamas without the requirement of a visa.
"Kenyans will now be able to travel for business and tourism in the Caribbean nation and we will welcome Bahamas citizens to visit and do business in Kenya without any visa restrictions," Mutua explained.
"The Bahamas is a successful tourist destination with visitors of over 9 million a year and we will be learning from them how to grow our numbers from the current one million tourists a year," the CS added.