Sunday, 27 October 2013

Ministers commit to fast-track regional projects

1382914372n1Ministers from Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan and Rwanda have reiterated their commitment to expeditiously undertake joint regional infrastructure projects that are expected to further the EAC integration process.

The foreign affairs ministers from Uganda, South Sudan and Rwanda and their Kenyan transport ministry counterparts met, yesterday, in a closed-door session just ahead of the 3rd Infrastructure Summit to be hosted by President Paul Kagame at Village Urugwiro today.

Speaking at the opening of the meeting, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo, who chaired the session, urged her counterparts to keep the momentum on the initiative.

Citenry expectations high

Mushikiwabo said citizens from the four states were expecting a lot from the framework.

The tripartite initiative is composed of Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda, while South Sudan is expected to join soon. Notable absentees in the initiative are Tanzania and Burundi, the other partner states in the five-member East African Community (EAC).

Mushikiwabo welcomed South Sudan to the trilateral initiative, saying they were ready to work together in implementing regional projects.

Sam Kuteesa, the Ugandan foreign affairs minister, said the EAC integration was lagging due to lack of political will in implementing the agreed decisions on regional level, saying that this was the right time to forget the past and focus on the future.

“What we need is results; we have spent many years attending these meetings without results now it’s the time to move forward,” he said.

Kutesa said since the trilateral arrangement commenced in June this year, non-tariff barriers have been removed on the Northern Corridor, adding that it now takes eight days for a truck to move from Mombasa Port to Kigali instead of 22 days as was the case.

He reiterated the need to fast track the implementation of the agreed projects.

During the first summit held in Entebbe, Uganda, in June, Presidents Paul Kagame, Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) and Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya) agreed to fast-track different regional projects, including the railway line connecting Mombasa to Kigali as well an oil pipe that will connect Eldoret to Kampala and be extended to Rwanda.

Others are use of identity cards as travel document among the three countries and single tourists’ visa that is envisaged to attract more tourists with the member states.

Since then the countries have set up a timeframe for the implementation of some projects like the use of identity cards and single tourist visa which will go into implementation effective January next year.

The single customs territory due to be launched today will also be implemented immediately.

South Sudan optimistic

The envisaged single customs territory is expected to eliminate duplication of processes, cut costs associated with regulatory requirements, enhance synergies through shared resources and provide a springboard for the free movement of other factors of production under the common market, among others.

South Sudan foreign minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin commended the three countries for allowing his country to be part of the initiative promising to strengthen the cooperation for the benefit of the four countries.

He said as a new born country they wanted to learn from other states.

“We will be able to transport our crude oil and we hope other projects will boost trade among our countries,” Marial added.

Ministers commit to fast-track regional projects


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