Ramaphosa: More must be done to improve economic ties between SA and Kenya

President Cyril Ramaphoa said that as vocal advocates of Pan-Africanism and intra-African trade, the two countries must set an example by increasing the volume and composition of their trade and investing more in each other’s economies.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Pretoria on Tuesday, 23 November 2021 during Ramaphosa's state visit. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - President Cyril Ramaphosa said that much more ought to be done to improve the economic ties between South Africa and Kenya.

Ramaphosa on Tuesday hosted Kenyan leader Uhuru Kenyatta at the Union Buildings in Tshwane.

The two countries share long-standing, mutually beneficial relations that predate Kenya’s historic support for the struggle against apartheid and colonialism in South Africa.

The president said that over the past five years bilateral trade had been constant while investment had mainly been characterised by South African companies investing in Kenya.

He said that as vocal advocates of Pan-Africanism and intra-African trade, the two countries must set an example by increasing the volume and composition of their trade and investing more in each other’s economies.

"We are committed to taking practical measures and steps to address the imbalance in bilateral trades between our two countries ensuring that South Africa becomes a ready destination for goods and services from Kenya," Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa said that efforts to strengthen economic ties were not possible without the facilitation of movement of people between the two countries.

"In this regard, we are most pleased to witness the signing today of the memorandum of understanding on migration matters and the agreement on nationals refused entry and illegal entrance."

Kenyatta also spoke about the importance of working to improve trade between the two countries.

"To just cite as an example, in 2020, Kenya's exports to South Africa were approximately $33 million while Kenya's imports from South Africa were around $430 million, so we need to see this not only balance out but also increase in volume," Kenyatta said.

During Kenyatta's state visit this week, the presidents have also discussed plans to acquire and manufacture COVID-19 vaccines on the continent.

Ramaphosa said that the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic had been uneven.

"It is a grave concern that the global community has not sustained the principles of solidarity and co-operating in securing equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. The strategic goal for both our countries and others on the continent should be to acquire and manufacture the vaccines on our own African continent," he said.

He said that South Africa and Kenya had proven capacity and expertise in this regard and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta agreed.

"It is unfortunate that at a time when the world should be collaborating in fighting against a pandemic, rich countries continue pursuing COVID-19 vaccine nationalism and hoarding, therefore the priority for African countries to build capacity is to meet our vaccine requirements is not only urgent but also essential," the Kenyan leader said.

Kenyatta said that Kenya aimed to start local production of COVID-19 vaccines during the first quarter of 2022.

"The aim of developing a fully-fledged vaccine manufacturing capacity by 2024 in this regard I am therefore looking forward to visiting the Aspen Pharmacare factory in Port Elizabeth," he said.