The East African Community (EAC) on Thursday, July 29, hailed the decision by Kenya to waive the requirement of obtaining a visa to enter Kenya for the citizens of South Sudan holding a valid passport. According to EAC Secretary General, Peter Mathuki, the move was in line with the decision announced by the Chair of the EAC Heads of State, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, during the 21st Ordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State held on February 27. Mathuki said: “This demonstrates the goodwill among the EAC Heads of State in promoting regional integration and revamping relations, which is set to boost intra-EAC trade. Rwanda and Tanzania are the other members of the bloc that have also waived visa requirements for South Sudanese citizens. According to Manasseh Nshuti, the Minister of State in charge of EAC affairs, the EAC Protocol on common market presumes free movement of people - no visas for EAC citizens - and people can work without permits; free movement of capital and, of course, free movement of goods and services to take advantage of the 180 million market in the bloc. As such, member countries can only abide by the protocols they assent to, Nshuti said. Mathuki also commended South Sudan, which has in the spirit of reciprocity also waived visa requirements for Kenyans, Rwandans and Tanzanians wishing to visit the country. “This is a positive step towards realizing the gains of the Protocol on Establishment of the EAC Common Market and a win for the Community. It is set to expand trade and investment opportunities, and scale up economic and social progression across the bloc,” Mathuki said. Article 10 of the EAC Common Market Protocol states that citizens of EAC Partner States are at liberty to accept employment within the territories of Partner States other than their own. “The EAC Secretariat urges Partner States that have not yet waived visa requirements for South Sudanese citizens to expedite the negotiations with the Republic of South Sudan in line with the provisions of the Common Market Protocol on free movement of persons and workers,” said Mathuki. Article 7 of the EAC Common Market Protocol stipulates that EAC Partner States shall ensure non‐discrimination of the citizens of the other Partner States based on their nationalities by ensuring entry of citizens of the other Partner States into the territory of the Partner State without a visa and free movement of persons who are citizens of the other Partner States within the territory of the Partner State. It also states that EAC citizens are allowed to stay in the territory of a Partner State and exit without restrictions. As noted, the waiver of visa requirements by Partner States for South Sudanese citizens and vice versa will further promote the free movement of persons, labour and services, which will in turn step up cross-border trade in line with the EAC 2020/2021 budget theme of promoting private sector growth and trade development within the region. John Bosco Kalisa, who was last month appointed as CEO of the East African Business Council (EABC), noted that Juba also needs to waive visa requirements for all EAC citizens to enable free movement of goods and investments which are critical for economic growth and job creation. Prior to his appointment at EABC, Kalisa was Country Director for TradeMark East Africa in South Sudan. I have been working there and I have been paying $50 for a visa, Kalisa said.