NAIROBI, Kenya, May 8- The Kenyan and Botswana governments are increasingly opening up avenues that can help them cement their relations and grow trade volumes between the two countries.
Botswana High Commissioner to Kenya Charles Migotsi said on Friday that while the two countries have had cordial ties in other areas for years, this cooperation has not been extended to the trade realm whose volumes have been very low.
“There has been a lot of collaboration in the fields of education; Botswana has been sending students to Kenya while we continue to benefit from the trainers that Kenya send but in terms of trade, there has hardly been any but we can do better,” he said.
Trade figures have been very ‘unsteady’ over the last four years. For instance, in 2007, the trade volumes were at $78 million, in 2009 it stood at $17 million while in 2010, this figure grew to $70 million.
The low trade volumes are witnessed despite the huge opportunities that exist for the private sector in the two countries.
Mr Migotsi for example cited his government’s huge import bill which is approximately Sh400billion per year and which the Kenyan business community can tap into to grow not only their operations but the economy as well.
“That gives an opportunity to investors so that part of the 80 percent of the imports could be coming from Kenya and once this happens, that will be the basis for the establishment of good trade relations,” the envoy emphasised.
He told Capital Business that the two governments were aware of the need to expand trade and investment and were looking to sign many Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) and other bilateral agreements that would enable their private sectors to explore the many business opportunities that are present in the two countries.
“Since I was posted to Kenya four years ago, we have had two joint commissions and we are planning another one this year that will bring together officials from different government departments to look at the MOUs that we have and see how our private sectors can benefit,” Mr Migotsi disclosed.
He spoke on the sidelines of the \’Global Expo 2011 and Doing Business with Botswana\’ workshop which was geared towards giving Kenyan firms the opportunity to venture into the Southern African country and promote their businesses.
“With functions such as this, we are saying that the ground is ripe for investors and exporters and this presents great opportunities for Kenyan investors to take up and harness maximum benefits” he stated.
Earlier, Trade Minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere lauded the Botswana government for organising the event saying it would go a long way in strengthening the business relation between the two countries.
Mr Mwakwere also underscored the importance of the fair as one that would help to promote intra-regional and intra-African trade.
“Exhibitions are gaining more popularity in Africa and their role in the growth of trade cannot be over emphasised. Through exhibitions, business negotiations are facilitated which lead to business deals between regions and countries. Exhibitions are a key contribution to the growth of trade and must be given the importance it deserves,” the minister reiterated.
The organisers Sols Inclinations say they expect more than 100 Kenyan exhibitors to take part in this year\’s fair which is expected to generate more than Sh6 billion worth of business.