AT THE UNION BUILDINGS IN PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA
Your Excellency, Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to join, Your Excellency, today as we accelerate efforts to strengthen our bilateral ties; and reaffirm our unwavering unity of purpose, as Africans.
I thank you Excellency, for the invitation to visit your beautiful country and for the warm and cordial reception accorded to me, and my delegation, since our arrival in Pretoria.
Kenya and South Africa enjoy warm and cordial relations, which continue to thrive, making it possible for our two countries to realize great successes at bilateral and multilateral levels.
I take this opportunity to express our appreciation for the support that the Republic of South Africa has continued to extend to Kenya. In particular, we remain grateful for endorsing Kenya and lobbying the other SADC countries, to support Kenya’s election as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the period 2021/22. The value of like-minded African democracies, stewarding our continent to its desired developmental trajectory through consolidation of peace and security, cannot be over-emphasized.
Kenya considers South Africa as one of her most dependable and strategic allies in the continent. When President Zuma paid a State Visit to Kenya in 2016, we signed several Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding that have greatly contributed to the enhancement of our bilateral relations.
As mentioned in our previous meetings, it is a shared desire to elevate the cooperation framework between our two countries from a Joint Commission for Cooperation, at the Ministerial level, to a Binational Commission at the Heads of State level.
Excellency, on continental and multilateral matters allow me to commend you for the excellent manner in which you steered the African Union during your tenure as Chair, in 2020. This coincided with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which marked an unprecedented period globally.
I was delighted to be part of the Bureau, which you led, and which established the Africa Joint Continental Strategy for COVID-19. This strategy continues to-date, to guide the response to the pandemic.
As a member of the Bureau of the African Union, I recall your tireless efforts in convening the Bureau meetings that among others, culminated in the appointment of Six Special Envoys of the African Union.
Excellency, in pursuit of boosting the manufacturing capacity for Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in South Africa, your collaboration with the Aspen Pharmacare is a step in the right direction. It is unfortunate that at a time when the world should be collaborating in the fight against the pandemic, rich countries regrettably continue pursuing COVID-19 vaccine nationalism and hoarding.
The imperative for African countries to build capacities to meet our vaccine requirements is, therefore, urgent and existential.
Kenya on its part, aims to start local production of the COVID-19 vaccines during the first quarter of 2022, with the aim of developing fully-fledged vaccine manufacturing capability by 2024. In this regard, therefore, I am looking forward to visiting the Aspen Pharmacare Sterile Facility in Port Elizabeth.
On matters Health, Your Excellency South Africa’s medical and scientific prowess is globally recognized. Provision of Universal Health Care is a top priority for my Administration. We therefore look forward to engaging with South Africa on matters health, to draw on best practices and develop mutually beneficial synergetic linkages.
I am aware, and for which I congratulate the Government and the people of South Africa, of the great strides your country has made in the medical domain, with outstanding breakthroughs, such as:
(i) the invention of the digital laser with numerous applications;
(ii) design of the first induced pluripotent stem cells in Africa;
(iii) creation of the full-body x-ray scanner, through adopting technology initially designed to help the security sector detect stolen diamonds;
(iv) development of the cryoprobe that is used in cataract surgery;
(v) Computed Axial Tomography (CAT) scan;
(vi) ground-breaking heart transplant; and
(vii) pioneering surgical procedure using 3D-printed middle ear bones, developed by Professor Mashudu Tshifularo at the University of Pretoria.
In this regard, I welcome the initiative and the efforts our technical teams are making to conclude a cooperation instrument that provides a legal framework for collaboration in strategic areas in the health sector.
Excellency, trade and investment remains one of the strongest pillars of our bilateral relations. South Africa is one of our leading trading partners in sub-Saharan Africa.
For example, in 2020, Kenya’s exports to South Africa were approximately USD 33 million; while Kenya’s imports from South Africa were about USD 430 million. Over the last 10 years, the Kenyan trade values have been relatively static.
With respect to investment, South Africa is a major source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Kenya. During 2016 – 2019, South Africa’s investment in Kenya rose sharply from USD 2,235 million to USD 3,106 million.
This is a position that Kenya, working with South Africa, is keen to change. Our increasing manufacturing capacity and innovation can sustainably drive the increase of Kenyan exports to your country. We are confident that we have a wide of range of products that would be beneficial to South Africa.
Further, noting that trade between our two countries is currently, hugely in favour of South Africa, we also should agree to task the technical teams to propose measures that our two countries could adopt to address the trade imbalance.
In this context, the technical teams should review the range of goods and services that South Africa imports from the rest of the world; and identify those that South Africa could source from Kenya and vice versa.
I am sure Your Excellency will agree with me, Kenya has a comparative advantage in the service sector, particularly in hospitality, financial services, ICT, and data processing.
Given the strategic importance of South Africa and Kenya in the continent, addressing the bottlenecks in the trade and investment regime between the two countries, is an important building bloc towards harnessing the benefits of the AfCTFA. We are already working together to lobby countries in our respective trading blocs to ratify the Tripartite Free Trade Area; I urge our teams to hasten this process.
Excellency, there are enormous opportunities that exist in Kenya within the Big Four Agenda, for private sector investment. The priority areas are investments in Universal Health Coverage (UHC); quality affordable housing; food security; and manufacturing.
Undoubtedly, these priority areas offer good returns and are transformational in value addition, job creation and improvement in the quality of life for our citizens.
Excellency, I am encouraged by the ongoing interactions between our business community and the interest expressed by South African companies, particularly in housing, financial services and the energy sectors in Kenya.
I encourage South African businesses, to consider investing more in the full portfolio of opportunities to unlock the latent potential of our cooperation.
Excellency, our common prosperity goals, at bilateral and multilateral levels, as envisioned in Agenda 2063 and the AfCFTA, will largely remain unrealized if the free movement of people and merchandise is not encouraged.
With this in mind, I appreciate the progress made so far towards the realization of the Reciprocal Visa-Free Travel Regime between our two countries. This will certainly act as a catalyst to boosting trade and investment between our two brotherly countries, for the mutual benefit of our peoples.
In concluding my remarks, Your Excellency and Dear Brother, I wish to take this opportunity to extend an invitation for you to make a reciprocal State Visit to Kenya, at the earliest opportunity, as we steward the strengthening of our political and economic cooperation for the mutual prosperity of our peoples.