President Yoweri Museveni has expressed optimism in the trajectory that the efforts to realize integration of the East African Community (EAC) are taking. He said that the regional market has greatly boosted Uganda’s economy, particularly locally produced goods.
Museveni was Tuesday attending the 14th Summit of the Northern Corridor Integration Projects which was hosted by Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta.
In a statement later released by the President, he mentioned that he was happy that “a dream that we started with our political elders; Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Mzee Milton Obote is coming to fruition”.
“Things are beginning to move,” he said.
Museveni cited the dairy sector in Uganda whose excess produce (1.7 billion litres) out of the 2.5 billion litres that are produced annually, is consumed by the market within the EAC region.
“If it was not for this East African market, Uganda’s milk industry would have collapsed. It is the same case with maize. Whereas Uganda is producing five million tonnes annually, it only consumes one million tonnes, the rest being exported to our neighbours,” he noted.
He as well credited Kenyan leader, Kenyatta for working on Kisumu port noting that water transport makes business cheaper.
Museveni challenged technocrats to study how developing this water transport network can help the region exploit the Muko iron ore deposits using the gas under Lake Kivu.
Tuesday’s Summit was attended by President Yoweri Museveni, Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, while South Sudan President, Salva Kiir sent a representative.
Central in Tuesday’s deliberations between the Heads of State was the progress in the implementation of the Standard Guage Railway (SGR) that when completed will link the port of Mombasa to the inland inland cities of Kampala, Kigali and Juba.
“The Summit lauded the completion and commissioning of Mombasa — Nairobi section of the SGR in 2017 which is already transporting increasing number of passengers and cargo,” the leaders noted in a joint communique released at the close of the summit held in Nairobi.
Speaking at the close of the conference, President Kenyatta underscored the immense benefits of the joint interventions initiated under the NCIP since its inception in 2013.
“It is definitely good news for our citizens,” said the President as he cited joint actions including the single customs territory that has resulted in reduced transit times and cost of goods.
President Kenyatta further assured his regional colleagues that Kenya will sustain the momentum in the timely implementation of the remaining phases of the SGR to reach the Kenya-Uganda border town of Malaba.
Rwanda’s President Kagame thanked President Kenyatta for reconvening the summit after a two year break.
“I thank you President Kenyatta for reconvening the summit after nearly two years so that we can keep up the momentum in fashioning and implementing joint initiatives and projects for the benefit our region,” said President Kagame.
The Summit received an update on the harmonisation of standards for commonly traded commodities and directed partner states to fast track the process.
Furthermore, the Heads of State considered and adopted the Accession Treaty to the Mutual Defence Pact, and agreed to finalise an agreement on the establishment of a Centralised Aeronautical Database (CAD) for the Northern Corridor Airspace bloc.
In the joint communique, the East African leaders reaffirmed their commitment to advancing regional integration while underscoring the importance of accelerating socio-economic transformation, industrialisation and employment creation.
The leaders agreed to come up with ‘the Lake Victoria intermodal transport system’ pending consultations on re-scoping of refined petroleum products pipeline. This will ease the circulation of petroleum products in the region as a key source of industrial and domestic energy.
Further, the leaders agreed to allocate more funding for the development of centres of excellence to support creation of requisite human resource capacities needed for the implementation and sustenance of NCIP projects.
Similar joint projects such as the electricity line to Rwanda through the Mirama Hills now 75% complete is planned for commissioning by October this year.