South Africa and Kenya have agreed to create an enabling environment to ease the conditions for doing business between the two countries, says President Jacob Zuma.

The South African president, who is on a three-day State visit to Kenya, told a media briefing this here Tuesday following official discussions with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Saying that the discussions were quite fruitful and productive, President Zuma added: “The Tripartite Free Trade Area — covering the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) — is one of the practical initiatives taken by governments to facilitate trade and investment in the continent, consistent with our determined effort to implement the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063 and its Plan of Action.

“We welcome the signing of new bilateral agreements today. The signing of these instruments is a clear indication of our collective determination to take our relations to a higher level. We are indeed working towards a strategic partnership anchored on economic and security cooperation. In our deliberations, we reviewed a wide range of bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest.”

The co-operation between the two countries spans a number of fields, and President Zuma said they had taken these relations to a higher level.

“We see a lot of room for the further expansion of relations. Over the years, there has been a remarkable increase in economic relations between our two countries, as demonstrated by the large number of South African companies operating in Kenya,” he noted.

“To date, over 60 South African companies are doing business here. Trade co-operation continues to show an upward mobility, thus making Kenya one of South Africa’s top trading partners on the continent. We will later today inter-act with the South Africa-Kenya Business Forum and encourage further economic co-operation.”

With regard to continental developments, the two Presidents discussed issues related to peace and security in the continent. President Zuma said they noted with great concern the challenges posed by terrorism and extremist groups which continued to affect some countries on the continent.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms all forms of terrorism and extremism. We reiterate the need for joint regional and continental efforts towards countering these negative elements. Since we are in East Africa, it was only natural that we spent considerable time discussing the current challenges in Burundi, South Sudan and Somalia.” said President Zuma.

“We expressed our grave concern about the ongoing conflicts in these sister countries, which affect the entire region. We urge the government of Burundi and people of Burundi to speed up the national dialogue process under the stewardship of the East African Community.

“We condemn the recent call by the SPLM In-Opposition under Dr Riek Machar for a popular armed resistance against the government in Juba. There is absolutely no need for fighting.”

He said further fighting will only exacerbate the human suffering in South Sudan. “We call on Dr Riek Machar to return to Juba and participate in the transitional government,” he added.

“On the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo), we urge all stakeholders to participate in the national dialogue process. We hope that the dialogue will come up with a clear road map towards elections,” said the President.

Considering their commitment to finding African solutions to African problems, President Zuma said he and President Kenyatta agreed to work together to deal with these challenges. The two leaders reiterated their common position on the need to reform the multilateral institutions, including the United Nations Security Council, to better represent the interests of the developing world.