SOUTH SUDAN AND KENYA VISA-FREE AGREEMENT, SO NEAR YET TOO FAR
For far too long, South Sudan and Kenya have demonstrated the need to ease cross-border movements by exempting nationals from the two countries from producing visa. The last time that intention was made known to the public was last year, which ended without the implementation of the said agreement. Like any other political rhetoric, that diplomatic and immigration pledge has resurfaced again in 2020. Chris Mburu, the Kenyan Ambassador to South Sudan was quoted to have said “The process is still but only the two Directors of Immigration of Kenya and South Sudan should meet, they already have the agreement, it’s just a matter of signing before it’s effected”. That sounds like a journey travelled so far. But there is nothing new about such a persuasive statement as it reminisces what we have previously heard. Only if the two countries realize the economic breakthrough that would emanate from the signing of the visa-free agreement, they would not dare make it remain a pipeline dream. South Sudan and Kenya have developed very strong political and social ties so much that nationals of both East African nations feel they belong to one country only separated by a colonial-induced geographical frontier. South Sudanese have so much to benefit from Kenya in terms of education just like Kenyans find solace in the Africa’s youngest nation as far as employment and business opportunities are concerned. But restricted movements that stem from visa production continues to be a stumbling block jeopardizing many cross-border activities. Visa exemption is a welcoming development that must not be held up for a long time. When a plan remains rhetorical, it loses its palatability however brilliant that plan or idea might be. It has now gotten to the public domain that an upcoming meeting in Kenya, whose date was not made known, would see the implementation of the long-awaited agreement. Until then, the public have their fingers crossed.