Kenya has reached out to Botswana, again, in a bid to raise trade volumes that have stayed below targets for both countries two years after they signed a trade deal.
Foreign and International Trade Cabinet Administrative Secretary Ababu Namwamba told a forum the two countries should take advantage of cordial political relations to foster business.
Mr Namwamba who was speaking at the second Kenya-Botswana Diaspora Investment Forum held on Saturday at Fairgrounds Holdings, Gaborone, said it was disappointing that trade volumes have not improved despite existing transport networks and good ties between the two countries.
“We have agreed to revisit a 2016 Memorandum of Understanding that clearly stipulates how our two countries can trade better and increase the volumes which as we speak remain way below potential,” Mr Namwamba said.
He was referring to the November 2016 MoU signed between Nairobi and Gaborone to build their trade and Investment partnerships in agriculture, agribusiness, Information and Communication Technologies, horticulture and manufacturing among others.
This agreement had followed President Uhuru Kenyatta’s June 2016 visit to Gaborone when he attended the Botswana-Kenya Business Forum and held talks with then Botswana’s President, Ian Khama.
Yet that deal appears not to have spurred trade volumes.
Kenyan sold to Botswana goods worth Sh451 million, according to records available at the Foreign Affairs ministry in 2016. This was nearly half the volume recorded in 2014.
Much of the problem has been that both countries trade similar goods.
Kenya’s main imports from Botswana are general electricals, rubber material, clothing, furniture, household electricals, television receivers and pottery, according to a report by regional trade advisory organisation Trade Mark East Africa.
It in turn sells to Botswana pharmaceuticals, mineral oils, fruit juices, instruments and appliances, lighting and fittings.
Mr Namwamba’s proposal to raise trade figures is through joint participation in trade fairs, promotion of e-commerce and livestock industry.
Botswana is one of the countries in Africa with a significant Kenyan population and Mr Namwamba called on the Kenya diaspora in Botswana to help boost trade.