President Uhuru Kenyatta Thursday morning traveled to South Africa on a three-day official visit that will see him hold talks with President Jacob Zuma to boost cooperation in a wide range of areas including trade, security and infrastructure development.
During the afternoon talks, President Kenyatta and President Zuma will seek to review the progress in the implementation of earlier signed agreements and explore new areas to deepen the fraternal ties between Kenya and South Africa.
In October 2016, President Zuma made a historic State visit to Kenya which witnessed the signing of six agreements and Memoranda of Understanding in various sectors.
The agreements were on visa exemption for passport holders of diplomatic, ordinary and service passports, on defence cooperation, police cooperation, on cooperation between Kenya Investment Authority, Export Promotion Council and the Trade-Invest of South Africa, cooperation in the field of biodiversity, on conservation and management, and on Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor Projects.
During President Zuma’s visit to Kenya, both leaders directed that negotiation towards the establishment of a Bi-National Commission be expedited to further bolster trade relations between the two countries.
In the area of Immigration, the two countries were able to resolve some of the key issues including visa requirements for Kenya nationals travelling to South Africa.
Key amongst these was the acceptance by South Africa to issue visa on arrival for official delegations, and the issuance of a one-off visa tenable for the duration of study in South Africa for Kenyan Students.
President Kenyatta’s official visit to South Africa will also focus on enhancing cooperation between the two countries in the area of training.
Kenya and South Africa have concluded over 16 instruments of cooperation, agreements, MoUs and letters of intent on training. For instance, the University of Pretoria and the Kenya Wildlife Service entered into a MOU on 16 October 2013.
The MOU provides for capacity building for KWS staff in Rhinoceros DNA Index system involving DNA profiling, collection, classification and storage of information relating to population of Rhino in Rhodes Project based at the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory of the University of Pretoria.
Both countries cooperate in scientific exchange, agriculture, public health, law, education and military training among others.
On trade, President Kenyatta’s discussion with President Zuma will focus on bridging the balance of trade which is currently highly in favour of South Africa.
The two leaders will also explore areas geared towards increasing consultations on global issues that would be enhanced by increased contacts at the highest bi-lateral level.
On Friday, President Kenyatta will meet Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who succeeded Zuma last month as party leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).
He will also meet Johannesburg business community; and the Chief Executive Officer of Volkswagen South Africa, Thomas Schaefer, who set up an assembling plant in Kenya in December 2016.
On Saturday President Kenyatta will attend celebrations to mark the 106th anniversary of the ANC.
The plane carrying the President and his entourage departed Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) shortly before noon.
President Kenyatta was seen off at the airport by Deputy President William Ruto and other senior Government officials.