Imports from South Africa grew by $107 million (Sh11 billion) in the first eight months of the year that saw Africa’s most industrialised economy overtake the United States in sales to Kenya.
South Africa sold goods worth $414 million (Sh42.7 billion) to Nairobi in the eight-month period, a 34 per cent growth from $307 million (Sh31.7 billion) in a similar period a year earlier. The faster growth in sales saw Pretoria displace the US to emerge sixth biggest seller of commodities to Kenya.
South Africa is the most industrialised and diverse economy in the continent and is the top seller to Kenya among African countries. It sells to Nairobi goods such as wines and other alcoholic drinks, cars as well as spare parts, oil lubricants and machinery.
Imports from the US grew to Sh40.2 billion in the eight-month window, from $331 million (Sh34.2 billion), slipping one position behind South Africa on Nairobi’s import table, data from Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows.
But Kenya’s exports to South Africa remain paltry, at less than $48 million (Sh5 billion) in the period with the country not featuring among the top 11 buyers of goods from Nairobi, the KNBS data shows. South African companies with operations in Kenya include MultiChoice, SABMiller, and Massmart (Game brand) while thousands of Kenyans are frequent travellers to South Africa for business and leisure.
Kenya has long expressed discomfort with the many hurdles its citizens travelling to South Africa continue to face with little response from Pretoria.
Ideally, Kenya and South Africa are supposed to be dealing with each other under the principle of reciprocity — meaning that benefits extended by one country are mirrored by the other. The KNBS data shows China remains the biggest seller of goods to Nairobi, having shipped in Sh273 billion worth of goods in the year to August, ahead of second-placed India (Sh117 billion).
Botswana President Ian Khama says Zimbabwe has potential and capacity to recover quickly following the fall of Robert Mugabe, its autocratic ruler for 37 years seen as an impediment to foreign investment.
Khama who has always been a vocal critic of former president Robert Mugabe told the BBC in an interview that the country could turn around in a short space of time if the incoming president Emmerson Mnangagwa demonstrated that the country is stable.
The 93-year old Mugabe quit on Tuesday, after the military took over the country and his party sacked him.
“Zimbabwe has got the potential of being an economic powerhouse and even though it took Mugabe 37 years to bring it down to chaos. It will not take that long to bring it back up again because there is so much potential the people are so innovative and hardworking,” said Khama.
“I am sure investors will be tripping over themselves to come back into that country and I think in a very short space of time if he can demonstrate to investors and to the people of Zimbabwe the confidence that they have achieved in that country there will be a turn around.”