Botswana to review immigration laws on Kenyans

Botswana to review immigration laws on Kenyans

Botswana will review its restrictive migrant laws for Kenyans’ work permits after President Uhuru Kenyatta’s push during a State visit to the south African country.

Botswana President Ian Khama has said he has asked his ministers for Labour and Home Affairs (Immigration) to examine what had caused problems for Kenyans seeking employment in Botswana and to fix the problem.

President Khama also said he would soon despatch his ministers for Trade  and Investment, and Agriculture, to Nairobi to explore areas of cooperation — with a specific mandate to boost investment by Botswana in East Africa’s largest economy.

Botswana would also seek to assist Kenya build its nascent mining sector, and was keen to assist Kenya to draw up a “very robust response” to poaching in order to stem the slaughter of elephants.

The southern African nation has an experience of many decades in mining and is the biggest producer of diamonds.

President Kenyatta, in one-on-one talks with the Botswana leader, and thereafter at bilateral talks accompanied by Kenyan officials, had specifically asked that Botswana examines its migrant laws in order to encourage skilled Kenyans to operate there freely.

President Khama also accepted a request by President Kenyatta to review an air services agreement to allow Kenya Airways to fly more frequently and to more destinations in Botswana.

On Tuesday night, President Kenyatta met the Kenyan diaspora in Botswana where he assured them that the Botswana government will soon address the issue of work permits.

“I have already met President Khama and he has promised to solve the problem as soon as possible,” said the President when addressed Kenyan professionals and businessmen who gathered at the Travel Lodge Conference Centre in Gaborone.

The Kenyans included those who work for the Botswana government and other professionals in private practice including doctors, engineers and architects.

An official of the Kenyan community in Botswana told the meeting that for instance Kenyan engineers and architects have had a role in the construction of all the major buildings in Gaborone including the Travel Lodge where the meeting was being held.

In his speech, President Kenyatta called on Kenyans living outside the country to play a positive role to reinforce peace and harmony back at home.

He urged them to use their voice to promote unity instead of using their influence to sow ethnic hatred.

The President also promised that the Government will ensure voting rights for all Kenyans living in the diaspora will become a reality.

“In keeping with the Constitution of Kenya, we are seeking to actualise the right of all Kenyan citizens to participate in the democratic processes of the country. I am pleased to inform you that you, and all Kenyans in the diaspora, will be able to vote in the next general elections which are scheduled to take place in August 2017,” said the President.

In his push to advance business opportunities, President Kenyatta today in the morning opened the Botswana-Kenya Business Seminar where he urged for more intra-Africa trade.

The President said it was regrettable that African countries are yet to exploit the immense business opportunities that exist within the continent to bring more prosperity.

“I deeply believe in the value and need for greater intra-african trade which is why Kenya is part of the Tripartite Free Trade Area agreement along with Botswana, and which is why I am here today,” said President Kenyatta.

The business seminar organised by the Botswana and Investment Trade Centre in conjunction with the Kenya Government brought together more than 200 businesspeople from both countries. The day-long conference is aimed at exploring profitable business partnerships.

President Kenyatta said the trade volume between Kenya and Botswana should be higher than it currently is given the fact that the two countries have exchanged human capital for more than 50 years.

For many decades Kenya has trained  Botswana government officials in public administration. Kenya has also trained many Botswana nationals in other fields including railway engineering, agriculture, journalism and defence among others.

To date very many citizens from Botswana continue to undergo training in Kenya in areas such as agriculture, medicine, economics, meteorology, defence, aviation and community development.

Kenya was one of the first countries to come to Botswana’s support in 1966 when it gained independence and asked for support from fellow African nations.

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Maureen Murimi
Story By Maureen Murimi
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