Kenyans must have accepted their fate and have hoped for a better economic and political growth but the Uhuru open border directive doesn’t seem like a good idea to many citizens.
The President, during the Kenya Military Academy Officer Cadet’s Commissioning Parade in Lanet, Nakuru on November 30, 2017, called for open borders for all Africans as a move to promote Pan-Africanism.
Making the announcement shortly after he took the second oath of office to serve his final term as Kenyan President, Uhuru open border directive is slated to be implemented without a demand for reciprocity from other African nations.
This though seems like a welcome idea to many, analysts, bureaucrats and business leaders are concerned about the implication of the unprecedented move.
Uhuru assures Kenyans that his new tenure will be centred on economic growth as a way of healing the widening rifts caused by election politics and economic circumstances.
He also promised more goodies for citizens of the East African Community States – jobs, land and settlement.
But analysts revealed that implemented, the directive means that Africans wishing to visit Kenya will be eligible to receive a visa at the port of entry, unlike in the past when many had to go through a rigorous, often expensive process to secure a visa in Kenyan embassies abroad.
On the negative side, the new order also implies that the country will face a significant increase in the number of Africans seeking and this will severely put the nation’s immigration services to test.
The security service will also be put to test as the influx of people into the country will present a logistical nightmare because the security agencies will be required to mount more robust surveillance at all border points.
Analysts, however, agreed that the Uhuru open border directive will have far-reaching ramifications on the soci-economic spheres, especially, security, education, health, labour and cohesion, but warned that the move lacked the instruments to ensure that it does not hurt national security.
“Like your Kenyan brothers and sisters, you will need only your identity card. You can now work, do business, own property, farm, and if you wish and find a willing partner, you can marry and settle in Kenya,” President Kenyatta said.
Analyst, Mr Simiyu Werunga, also warned that while the directive was a good political statement, the directive has serious implications on national security as Kenya is not only surrounded by troubled States but neighbours Somalia, a region known for active terrorist cells and “the epicentre of contraband trading.
In addition to security issues, the country will also have to grapple with an influx of unskilled labour which could cause social havoc besides triggering a national security problem, he said.
However, the Director of Immigration, Maj Gen (Rtd) Gordon Kihalangwa, said a lot of thought had gone into the directive at the point the President made it.
“However, we need to look at it closely and develop modalities of how it will work,” he said, adding that visitors will still be vetted to ensure only well-meaning people get into the country.