Business people from Kenya and South Africa held a joint summit in Nairobi on Monday aimed at seeking investment opportunities in both countries.
On the first day of the summit, weaknesses in the countries’ value addition chains as well non tariff barriers emerged as top hindrances between Kenya and South Africa.
The Trade and Investment mission comprising of 19 South African companies will also have a similar summit in Tanzania.
On the first of the three day business summit ,officials from Kenya lamented the trade imbalance between the two regional economic powerhouses.
The latest data shows exports from Kenya at below 3% of imports from South Africa.
“The total exports to South Africa dropped in 2017 to US$26.78 millions from US$ 40.68 million in 2016, while the Kenya imports from South Africa increased to $600 million in 2017 from $488m in 2016,” said Angela Ndambuki, CEO, Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry
The meeting is aimed at bridging that gap.
“The question that is before us is what are we doing differently and I think we are known as Africans we are known we are good at implementation is very good,” said SA Ambassador to Kenya, Koleka Mqulwana.
Lack of value addition was identified as one of the setbacks for Kenya’s low exports to South Africa. Kenyan businessmen also lamented non-tariff barriers like lengthy paperwork and bureaucracy, as some of the impediments to accessing the South African markets.
“I have made several trips to South Africa to the permit office in pretoria trying to get an import licence for camel meat and milk but this date we do not have any joy from that side,” said Kenyan livestock trader, Mohammed Abdi Mohammed
Not one to give up, Mohammed has devised other ways of accessing the market.
“They go to Mauritius, they are slaughtered, they are packaged and then sent to South Africa.”
Kenya is hoping to tap into South Africa’s more developed manufacturing sector.