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Kenya Exempts Ethiopia, South Africa from e-travel Authorization fees

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Kenya Exempts Ethiopia, South Africa from e-travel Authorization fees

KENYA, March 27, 2024 / -- Ethiopia and South Africa have joined the list of countries whose citizens are not required to pay the mandatory $30 e-travel authorization fees to travel to Kenya. The two nations bring to seven the number of countries that fall under the country’s visa-exempt list.

Currently, exemptions apply to Mozambique, Congo-Brazzaville, Comoros, San Marino, Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Africa, and the East African Community (EAC) member states. Citizens from these countries seeking to visit Kenya will be allowed to do so as long as they have a valid passport. However, they still need to obtain the Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) document, which they can apply for free of charge. The document is valid for 90 days.

Visa-Free Visit to Kenya
Kenya began tweaking its online visitor registration service in December last year following President William Ruto’s announcement of a visa-free policy for international travelers, ostensibly to ease travel into the country and boost the tourism sector.

The president’s argument for dropping visa requirements to Kenya was that human beings historically originated in Kenya’s Turkana County, and it was ridiculous to make it hard for children of the soil to come home. Turkana County in Kenya’s northwest is home to early hominids dating as far back as 100 million years and is known as the cradle of humankind.

“It shall no longer be necessary for any person from any corner of the globe to carry the burden of applying for a visa to come to Kenya”, President Ruto said. “To echo the call of the Turkana people to the world, Kenya has a simple message to humanity: ‘Welcome Home!” he noted.

This initiative received global attention at first, with the country’s president being praised for the forward-thinking move. However, when the new visa-free policy took effect in January 2024, it stirred a lot of controversy. While Visa requirements had been scrapped, entry was not free except for members of six East African Partner States–Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Congo, and South Sudan.

Electronic Travel Authorizations (eTA)

The eTA scheme thus came into effect at the start of 2024 as part of President Ruto’s promise to make Kenya a visa-free country for people from all parts of the globe. It requires all foreigners to pay costly eTA fees to be allowed entry into the East African country. The fee is payable online via the government’s portal

The eTA scheme raised a lot of concerns from travelers, a majority of whom are drawn from 51 countries that previously enjoyed visa-free travel to Kenya. Nonetheless, all visitors to Kenya, including those from previously visa-exempt countries such as Ethiopia and South Africa, were now required to apply for the eTA and pay a $34 processing fee.

eTA Fee Waiver Agreements

With concerns surrounding the eTA scheme piling up, Kenya has now reviewed and made adjustments to the requirements. Effective 15 February, nationals from the following countries are exempt from paying eTA fees:
San Marino
South Africa

A memo from Kenya’s Ministry of Interior and Immigration Department said the exempted countries had entered “visa abolition agreements or signed bilateral visa waiver agreements” with Kenya before the eTA scheme came into force.

James Gatheru
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