Nairobi — The government is hosting the first ever trade and investment mission of businessmen from South Africa on Monday to facilitate and initiate dialogue between SA companies and businesses in Kenya in hopes of spurring trade.
Kenya's High Commissioner to SA Tom Amolo revealed that the delegation is fronted by the ANC Progressive Forum, bringing over 50 companies seeking trade and investment opportunities in Kenya.
He emphasised that South Africa is an important trading partner for Kenya, but urged better balance between the two countries relating to imports and exports.
"This is a very important first step in broadening the scope and content of our bilateral ties, especially in regard to trade and investment," he said.
"There are 35 South African companies in Kenya but the trade deficit between our two countries is too large. We import Sh73.8 billion worth of goods and services, but we only export only about Sh3 billion to South Africa," he added.
Amolo acknowledged the growing political tension and environment in the country due to the elections, but explained that the business community is happy with how the High Commission has worked to ensure that the elections are free and fair.
"The business community is very comfortable with what we've been doing and the legal and economic infrastructure that we've laid in place has excited investors," he said.
"With the discovery of oil, the large and growing middle class and a very well educated working community in the country, Kenya is ready for a really big take off," he explained.
Amolo noted that the visit takes place in the backdrop of a blossoming and cordial bilateral relationship between Kenya and South Africa, evident in terms of growing politico-economic relations as well as expanding business opportunities.
He added that among the sectors represented and seeking partnership with Kenyan companies are construction, hospitality, mining, infrastructure development, real estate and retail sectors.
"With a liberalised economy, relatively developed infrastructure, strong financial institutions, fast growing middle class, four fibre optic cables, cheap highly skilled manpower and a market access to 133 million people in the EAC, Kenya provides a platform for any investor keen to reap from the fastest growing economies of Eastern Africa," he said.
The programme for the trade and investment mission includes a business forum on January 22 and a networking breakfast on January 24, which will provide an opportunity for Kenyan companies to establish contacts, create dialogue and exchange ideas for future cooperation.
Last December, the two countries formed a South Africa-Kenya Business Association aimed at closing the trade deficit gap.
The association has launched a directory with the addresses and brief descriptions of the companies and businesses that have interests in the two countries.
All South African-linked companies and their Kenyan partners with business interests, employment contracts and associates living in Kenya are admissible to the association.