Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa have called for increased cooperation to bring peace to conflict-ridden regions in Africa. This was at the start of Kenyatta’s two-day state visit to South Africa.
In a meeting in Pretoria on Tuesday (November 23), the two leaders discussed the “grave situation in Ethiopia” and agreed that there is an urgent need for all parties to commit to an immediate, indefinite and negotiated cease-fire, Ramaphosa said.
They also condemned recent bomb attacks in Uganda`s capital of Kampala which claimed the lives of at least three civilians in what police described as a coordinated attack by extremists opposed to the government.
The two leaders discussed the problem of Islamic extremist violence in South Africa’s neighbour, Mozambique, and in other countries across Africa.
“Terrorism is not a fight that can be fought by any one country,” said Kenyatta, referring to al-Shabab in Somalia, Boko Haram in Nigeria and the several Islamic State groups operating in Africa.
“We must always recognize that despite them having different names, they are all collectively working together. Therefore we as governments need to work together. There is no Mozambican terrorist, or Kenyan terrorist, or Ugandan terrorist, or Congolese terrorist. These are all unfortunately young misled people, who follow a wrong ideology. And therefore we need to work together to be able to defeat them before they hurt us.” said Kenyatta.
Cyril Ramaphosa also acknowledged the fact that the collaborative efforts by some African states in fighting the menace has so far yielded some positive results but believes a lot more can be done in order to prevent any future occurrence.
“We certainly have found that working together in our region here in SADC, dealing with the Mozambican situation is bearing a great deal of fruit and success in that theatre, in Mozambique. But that theatre can spread very quickly and easily, as now Uganda is bearing the brunt of all this. And we’ve cooperated at close range with President Museveni, who has also shared information on an ongoing basis with us. And we as South Africa and indeed as SADC stand ready to give assistance.”
A number of agreements were signed between ministers of both countries.
As part of his two-day visit, Kenyatta is expected to visit the Aspen Pharmacare factory in Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth) on Wednesday to see the production of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccines there. The facility is assembling the J&J vaccines and can produce about 220 million doses of the J&J vaccines per year, many of which are being exported throughout Africa.
Kenya is one of South Africa’s largest trading partners in Africa outside the 15-nation Southern African Development Community.
The two leaders are hopeful of an increase in trade between South Africa and Kenya in the coming days.
“We would like to see trade between South Africa and Kenya moving toward the direction of being more balanced because it is horribly imbalanced at the moment. I would like to see Kenya’s trade with South Africa almost quadrupling because it is at a very low level at the moment,” said Ramaphosa.
With over 60 South African companies are currently operating in Kenya, South Africa exported about $500 million worth of goods to Kenya in 2020, compared to imports of about $22 million.