Despite many failures of its companies in Kenya, South Africa now boasts of more than 50 companies in the country, according to the South African President Jacob Zuma.

After the crumbling of the racist apartheid system, South African companies started flexing their muscles, making the rest of Africa their playground. They had better equipment, better skill, easier access to funds and they saw no challenge. Indeed, few other African countries had companies that were multinationals.

By last year however, Kenya has overtaken South Africa to become the largest investor in other African countries. Kenya has 36 projects while South Africa has 33.

South African Investors

Kenya, with a much more developed economy than most countries, was a major target of the South Africans.

Retailers, banks, telecommunications companies, and others all beat the path towards Kenya where the  South African bear company SABMiller had already made a noisy entry. Its battle with the Kenya EABL would end up with the buyout of the  SABMiller by EABL. It was apparently a discouragement for the South Africans, who for a long while went silent.

Trade Partner

According to Zuma, on a visit to Kenya – the first of a South African President, Kenya is one of South Africa’s most important trading partners. His visit, he said, was to strengthen cooperation with Kenya.

The cooperation was based on trade and security. South Africa wanted to see trade balance improve because at the moment it was lopsided in favour of South Africa.

President Uhuru Kenyatta wanted visas to be abolished so as to ease movement and trade between the two countries. But the South African President told reporters that although the issue had been discussed, it had to be seen within the efforts being made by the Africa Union (AU) member states to relax their borders.


“In Africa, the borders were created by colonialists without our consent. We are working to relax the borders,” he said during a press briefing.

Security was among top priorities because of threats from terrorists. Kenya and South would there ensure that border relaxation does not create opportunities to let in people with bad intentions, Zuma said,

He said South Africa would invest in giant Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) project. The purpose of the project, also known as the northern corridor is to promote trade and interconnectivity among African countries.