Harare (New Ziana) – Zimbabwe sees Kenya becoming one of its top 10 trading partners, with niche markets for local products already identified in Kenya’s fast-moving consumer goods and agriculture sectors, an official said on Monday.
Zimtrade chief executive officer Allan Majuru said President Emerson Mnangagwa’s State visit to Kenya in March had unlocked vast opportunities for local businesses to further penetrate into the East African country.
Following the visit, trade promotion body, Zimtrade, embarked on a market survey of the Kenyan market to investigate potential areas of trade and investment.
According to official data, trade was skewed in favour of Kenya which exported goods worth US$21 million to Zimbabwe in 2021 while Zimbabwean exports to Kenya reached US$17 million.
As such, Majuru said there was massive potential for Zimbabwean exports in the Kenyan market.
“The survey done in March was guided by the State Visit made by His Excellency President Mnangagwa in March. We found the niche for us to then do business going forward based on that State Visit that set the foundation for us to interact,” he said during a meeting to disseminate the results of the Kenyan market survey.
“Both our countries, Zimbabwe and Kenya, are part of Comesa so that allows us to do business either duty free or with reduced tariffs. We are also part of the African Continental Free Trade Area, so we have to take advantage of those protocols. We need to see Kenya among our top ten trading partners.”
Unpacking the survey results, Zimtrade export development manager Tatenda Marume said the survey, which was primarily focused on Nairobi and surrounding areas, had revealed the need for potential Zimbabwean exporters to consider niche products as the Kenyan market had a well-advanced retail sector- which is ranked the second best in Africa.
He said another strategy was to increase the market share of the dominant Zimbabwean products in the Kenyan market which currently consisted of sugar and tobacco.
“The first thing is to increase the cake and then diversify (the export basket),” he said.
“It is a very tough market considering the evolution and the developments that have been happening. I think Shoprite tried to enter into that market without much success, Game from South Africa as well as Choppies. It just shows the aggression in that market.
“When getting into Kenya it is not supposed to be a transactional approach rather consider it for the long term because of the amount of investment required.”
Marume said Kenya, like Zimbabwe, was also enforcing standards on imports with pre-shipment inspections being conducted by Bureau Veritas and SGS.
He said Kenya had a modern trade sector dominated by supermarket chains and distributors, but opportunities existed because Kenyans “love diversity.”
“There were products from Europe, Asia, Africa but unfortunately, we did not see as many products from Zimbabwe, but from engagements there is demand for syrups, and sugar related products. I think it follows in line with the demand for sugar.
“Juices, crushes and cordials are also some of the products that have got potential there. Kenya has got a respectable dairy sector, but because they love diversity there is room for specialty in dairy products such as yogurts and cheese,” he said.
In the agriculture sector, there is scope for suppling the Kenyan market with fertilisers, irrigation equipment, seeds, and stock feeds.
“Kenya is dominated by small scale farmers so some of the solutions have to be tailor made.”
Also speaking at the same event, Kenyan ambassador to Zimbabwe Stella Munyi said trade relations between the two countries were poised to grow.
“Relations between Zimbabwe and Kenya remain strong, cordial and continue growing in a way that is mutually beneficial to the two states,” she said.