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SA’s e-visa system to reach more countries

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The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has added 10 more countries for the roll out of its electronic visa (e-visa) system, according to minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi.

Motsoaledi announced this during his budget vote speech in Parliament this week.

After callsto introduce an e-visa system for tourists visiting SA, the DHA tested and piloted its e-visa system in Kenya in 2019.

Following the pilot in the east African nation, the department earmarked three of the world’s populous countries – China, India and Nigeria – to test out the new e-visas system in 2020.

Motsoaledi told Parliament that 10 more countries have been identified for roll out of e-visas: Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Mexico, Uganda, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Philippines and Pakistan.

Says the minister: “Most of the countries not mentioned [above] have a visa-free status to our country and hence don’t need the e-visa system. These will include the whole of SADC, most of Western Europe, North America, Brazil in South America and Russia.”

The South African electronic visa system allows eligible citizens short stays in the country for tourism or business purposes.

In March 2018, the DHA confirmed plans to pilot the electronic system in line with efforts to boost tourism and improve turnaround times of travel documentation. In September that year, president Cyril Ramaphosa revealed the system would be “implemented” soon.

At the time, Ramaphosa detailed the implementation of key economic reforms aimed at unlocking investment in important growth sectors, such as tourism. The reforms included immediate changes approved by Cabinet to SA's visa regime, with an electronic system identified as one of the mechanisms that will boost tourism and improve turnaround times of travel documentation.

Meanwhile, Motsoaledi stated the DHA is able to pilot the roll out of the Biometric Movement Control System at OR Tambo International Airport.

According to the minister, the department is working in collaboration with the Department of Transport and the Airports Company of South Africa to implement immigration e-gates at three major international airports.

“Ten e-gates are currently installed at Cape Town International Airport, with testing taking place on South African travellers entering and departing the country. The e-gates project is aimed at improving passenger processing times and experience, whilst maintaining the security and integrity of the borders.”

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