Kenya and Nigeria’s bid to strike bilateral trade relations is a step in the right direction. It is a positive signal towards reversing the dismal intra-Africa trade pattern on the continent. While trade amongst EU nations stands at about 70 per cent; trade amongst Asian nations is at 50 per cent. Amongst African countries, trade has been the lowest at 11 per cent.
Kenya currently shares its market with 18 other East and Southern African states (COMESA) while Nigeria remains a key player in the Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS). Trade between Kenya and Nigeria has been encumbered by a maze of regulations that have stifled entrepreneurial engagement among the two nations. While Kenya has been irked by Nigeria’s reluctance to allow Kenyan manufactured products from entering the Nigerian market, Nigeria has taken issue with Kenya’s punitive ownership regulations in the financial sector and immigration. Exports to Nigeria consequently fell to 33 million U.S. dollars last year from a peak of 37 million dollars in 2008, according to the Kenya National Bureau of statistics. Similarly, imports declined to a mere 555,000 dollars from 1.95 million dollars over the same period.
The seven agreements signed by Kenya and Nigeria covering tourism, oil and gas, trade and investment; oil and gas, visa exemption for diplomatic passport holders; conclusion of agreements on double taxation; agriculture, livestock and fisheries; and twinning of cities will by all means improve the two countries’ trade relations. They are worthy of emulation by other African countries.