South Africa exports to Kenya grew by Ksh11 billion ($106.4 million) 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 Ksh42.7 billion ($413.1 million) to Nairobi in the eight-month period, a 34 per cent growth from Ksh31.7 billion ($306.7 million) 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 Ksh40.2 billion ($388.9 million) in the eight-month window, from Ksh34.2 billion ($330.9 million), 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 Ksh5 billion ($48.3 million) 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 Ksh273 billion ($2.6 billion) worth of goods in the year to August, ahead of second-placed India ($1.2 billion).