President Jacob Zuma greets his Kenyan counterpart, Uhuru Kenyatta, before their talks at State House in Nairobi, Kenya. Picture: Kopano Tlape

Nairobi - Visiting South African President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday called on his country’s business community to increase their investment in Kenya.

Zuma, who said there are currently 60 firms from his country operating in Kenya, noted that he wants to see more South African companies investing in Kenya’s growing economy.

He told a Kenya-SA Business Forum that his visit to Kenya will open up a new chapter in relations between the two countries, pointing out that the business forum provides opportunities to strengthen economic and trade ties.

Zuma said Africa’s future looks bright as seen through the tripartite free trade area of EAC, SADC and COMESA which has 600 million people with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $1 trillion.

“The two countries have a good foundation for economic growth through good national economic development plans of Kenya’s vision 2030 and South Africa’s national development plan of 2030,” he said.

Zuma, who arrived in Nairobi on Tuesday at the start of his three-day visit to Kenya, said both plans are intended to transform the economies into rapidly industrialised nations offering their citizens a high quality of life.

Zuma said that to achieve this objective, there is a need to develop industrial clusters and adjust policies to ensure global competitiveness.

He said initiatives toward achieving this goal are already under way through quadrilateral arrangements between South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Egypt to promote industrialisation.

Zuma also called on Kenya’s business community to exploit business opportunities in South Africa.

Speaking at the forum, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta challenged the private sector to maximise the economic opportunities between the two countries, adding that the two governments will continue improving the business environment.

“We have made significant progress in these areas; eliminating or lowering many of the barriers to trade and movement that once existed. And we will continue to make progress,” Kenyatta said.

He said he had reached agreements with Zuma to remove all trade barriers - tariff and non-tariff - between the two countries because Kenya and South Africa are not in competition with each other.

The Kenyan leader said the two governments needed to do more to facilitate trade and allow free movement of goods and people sooner rather than later.

Kenyatta said Kenya and South Africa are leading the process of integration in their respective regions as per the goals of the African Union.

“The full potential of Africa cannot be exploited if we are not working in harmony together,” said Kenyatta.

Zuma said trade between the two countries stands at around $600 million, noting that this does not reflect the true potential that exists between the nations.

He said there is a need to create new sources of economic growth with emphasis on agribusiness, energy equipment, infrastructure and ICT.