South Africa will pilot its new e-visa system in the coming weeks as it aims to attract investors and people with skills that are critical to building the economy.
Speaking to BusinessTech in October, Department of Home Affairs spokesperson Siya Qoza said that the pilot will be relatively limited to begin with as it aims to test the resilience of the system.
“The pilot will be conducted with Kenya first at the OR Tambo and Lanseria airports,” he said. “At the end of the month, we will evaluate the project and look at which other countries to expand the e-visa system to.”
Qoza added that the system is quick and has been designed to be as user-friendly as possible.
He estimated that the entire application process would take around 20 minutes, provided the applicant has all of the necessary supporting documents ready for submission.
Should one of the required documents be missing, applicants can resume the process exactly where they left off at a later date, he said.
Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi said that his department is also lowering turnaround times for critical work skills visas, which are now issued within four weeks in 88.5% of applications.
By comparison, business and general work visas are issued within eight weeks in 98% of applications, he said.
“The department has also located visa services within the offices of various investment facilitation agencies around the country.
“In addition, visa requirements have been simplified for countries such as China and India, which are key markets for tourism to South Africa,” he said.
South Africa recently waived visas for travellers from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, New Zealand, Cuba, Ghana and Sao Tome and Principe.
While countries such as Qatar and Ghana already have visa-free or visa on arrival agreements with South Africa, it would be considered a serious boon if South Africans could travel visa-free to countries such as the UAE and New Zealand.
Home Affairs said it was currently in talks with these countries on two main issues.
“We have entered negotiations with these countries with the first priority being an implementation date for visa-free access to South Africa,” it said.
“Once this has been confirmed, our second priority is reciprocity.”