SA, Kenya strengthen ties

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Bilateral cooperation between South Africa and Kenya is expected to elevate to the level of a strategic partnership following an official State Visit to South Africa by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

This is according to President Cyril Ramaphosa who – together with President Kenyatta – addressed the media at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

“This would signify the importance of our political, economic and social ties and the leadership role we play in our respective regions. We need to consolidate those areas of cooperation that anchor our relations, explore new ones within the current state of global affairs, and address challenges that will affect our people in the future,” President Ramaphosa said on Tuesday.

The two leaders held discussions on bilateral, multilateral, economic, regional and other continental issues while ministers of the two countries signed at least eight memoranda of understanding in areas including health, transport and tourism.

President Ramaphosa said one of the first ports of call in strengthening relations between the two countries lies in trade and investment.

“Over the past five years, bilateral trade has been constant while investment has mainly been characterised by South African companies investing in Kenya. Much can be done and ought to be done. South Africa and Kenya ought to increase the volume of our trade and investing more in each other’s economies.

“We would like our ministers to remove any unreasonable barriers or challenges that are stifling efforts for us to trade between our two countries. We want to increase trade between South Africa and Kenya,” he said.

The President highlighted that the strengthening of economic ties cannot be realised as long as there are challenges in the movement of people between South Africa and Kenya.

“In this regard, we are most pleased to witness the signing today of the Memorandum of Understanding on Migration Matters and the Agreement on the Return of Nationals Refused Entry and Illegal Entrants,” he said.

Elevating cooperation

Also addressing the media, President Kenyatta said relations between the two countries remain warm and cordial which “continue to thrive” both on a bilateral and multilateral level.

“Kenya considers South Africa as one of her most dependable and strategic allies on the continent. The value of like-minded African democracies stewarding our continent to its desired developmental trajectory through consolidation of peace and security can never be overemphasised,” he said.

President Kenyatta said it is a “shared desire” to elevate the cooperation between the two countries from a joint commission of cooperation on a ministerial level, to a bi-national commission led by the presidencies of the two countries.

Turning to what he called the “trade imbalance” between South Africa and Kenya, President Kenyatta highlighted that areas where either country holds an advantage should be addressed and put into balance.

The Kenyan President reiterated President Ramaphosa’s calls to strengthen economic cooperation.

“Given the importance of South Africa and Kenya in the continent, addressing the bottlenecks and the trade and investment regime between our two countries is an important building block towards harnessing the benefits of the Africa Free Trade Area,” he said.

The two leaders also expressed mutual agreement on issues including the need to bring peace to countries on the continent engulfed in violent unrest and terrorism.

Both presidents also acknowledged the urgent need to produce and manufacture COVID-19 vaccines on the continent with President Kenyatta announcing that his country is expected to start such production in early 2022. –