The Rwandan Directorate of Immigration has revealed that travelling between Rwanda and Kenya will not require the use of passports in the near future, but only either countries’ national identity cards.
The announcement was made by the communications officer at the Directorate of Immigration and Emigration, Ange Sebutege, who said the two institutions (Immigration) have already agreed to set up a bilateral technical team to study all the intricacies involved.
According to Sebutege, the technical team that would involve the immigration officials from both countries is expected to commence the study by the end of this year, where they will discuss all the terms of reference.
He explained that the whole idea is about easing free movement of people and goods between the two countries. Recently, the two immigration chiefs met in Kigali and recommended to set up the team to study how the IDs will be used.
Adding that, the critical issue that might arise after the adoption of using identity cards is that travelers will pass through other countries like Uganda which is not party to the arrangement.
“Let’s say…. for instance, someone travelling to Kenya by road has to go through Kampala and it’s not clear if these cards might be allowed at immigration offices on the Ugandan side,” he said, in a briefing on among the issues to be addressed by the technical team.
The decision was reached at a recent meeting in Kigali between the two countries’ immigration bosses.
The electronic readable card is one of the documents EAC partner states should alternate to in order to facilitate the agreed freedoms around the region including services, capital, goods and the free movement of people, all under the Common Market Protocol.
After the report is completed, it will be presented to the two immigration chiefs for approval.
EAC Heads of State signed the Common Market Protocol on November 2009 to facilitate the free movement of goods, labour and capital with the aim of creating a favourable atmosphere for regional trade.
At a recent EAC media summit in Kigali, Musa Sirma, the Kenyan Minister for East African Cooperation, announced to journalists that the discussions between Rwanda and Kenya on the matter were already at an advanced stage.
Sirma said Kenya already has some arrangements in the pipeline for mutual agreement with Rwanda, to allow the citizens of the two countries to enter either country using just their respective national IDs.
Rwanda and Kenya are the only countries in the region with electronic identity cards, meaning that the movement of people would become easier in the two countries than the rest of other partner states.