Kenya, Djibouti Agree on Visa-Free Travel in a Move to Enhance Trade

Nairobi — Kenya and Djibouti have endorsed the reciprocal abolishing of visa requirements for their citizens.

Ruto said Sunday during a joint press conference with his Djibouti counterpart Ismail Guelleh, that the move is aimed at fostering people-to-people interactions, trade, and investment.

He reiterated his administration’s commitment to eliminating the barriers imposed by visa requirements for Djiboutian citizens traveling to Kenya.

“Therefore, Kenya has concluded necessary procedures to enable visa-free visits for citizens of Djibouti to Kenya,” he said.

The two leaders did not however give a timeline for the realization of the new visa-free arrangement.

To improve coordination on labor migration and ensure predictability, President Ruto said that both governments had agreed to accelerate the negotiation and finalization of a comprehensive labor agreement between the two states.

Ruto stated that to facilitate the process of harnessing Kenya’s skilled workforce, both governments had established a Joint Technical Committee dedicated to these efforts.

Workforce development

He added that they had also agreed to expedite the negotiation of a framework that enables the reciprocal recognition of certificates issued by our respective institutions of higher learning.

“I have informed the President that Kenya is extending an offer of 300 positions in our higher learning institutions to Djiboutian students, at the same fees applicable to Kenyan students,” he said.

Additionally, Ruto said that they also engaged discussions regarding support for English language training and its integration into Djibouti’s curricula.

“Conversely, to enhance the language proficiency of Kenyan graduates who seek employment abroad, Kenyan Technical and Vocational Education Training institutions, as well as medical training colleges, will benefit from the inclusion of French language trainees from Djibouti,” he said.

He noted that Kenya is fully prepared to provide support and necessary teachers to assist in this endeavor.

To unlock the untapped potential for expanding the value and volume of the commercial relations, the two countries have agreed to establish a Joint Business Council.

Ruto said that the council will work towards synergizing the trade missions and facilitating improved market access.

“I strongly encourage members of the business community from both countries to actively engage with their counterparts, particularly within the framework of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),” he added.

Direct flights

Ruto further singled out the absence of direct flights connecting the two countries as a significant impediment to the desired trade between the two countries.

As a solution, Ruto said he had agreed with President Guelleh for the two nations to focus on generating demand from both sides, aiming to resume direct flights including the review of the existing Bilateral Air Service Agreement, to address existing challenges.

“This restoration of air connectivity will undoubtedly have a profound impact on enhancing trade between our nations,” he said.

Additionally, Ruto said that the establishment of digital connectivity is crucial in fostering innovation and expanding e-commerce with the two countries.

To this end, Ruto said that Kenya will promptly review the proposal put forth by Djibouti Telecoms to sell its undersea cable infrastructure to Kenya’s TEAMs, taking into account technological advancements and the requirements of both parties.