Heads of State from Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya will later this month meet to discuss the modalities of financing the railway line that is expected to connect the three countries.
According to Monique Mukaruliza, the national coordinator of the trilateral initiative that is championing the project, a proposal on how the project will be funded has been prepared and it will be tabled before the heads of state for discussion and possible adoption.
"It's a joint proposal and the heads of state will deliberate on all the issues agreed on during a conference held in Entebbe (Uganda) in June. Kenya has advanced in mobilising the funds especially from China," Mukaruliza said.
The former Rwanda EAC minister said that the funding proposal will include other projects like the oil pipeline that would run from Mombasa to Eldoret to Kampala and to Rwanda.
The rail line project that is expected to be completed in 2018, is estimated to cost $3.5 billion. The three member countries will jointly mobilise funds to implement the project.
According to experts, once in place, the railway will have capacity to ferry cargo at speed of up to 80 kilometres per hour and it is expected, to transport goods on the Northern Corridor.
Over 50 per cent of Rwanda's imports come through Mombasa Port, which also serves other regional countries like Uganda, eastern DR Congo, Burundi, northern Tanzania and South Sudan.
Leon Sebutakirwa, an importer of packaging materials said transportation by trucks was expensive and takes longer to get to Kigali from Mombasa port.
He said it would be significant if the railway project is fast-tracked to facilitate the business community especially transporters.
High transport costs is among the leading challenges hampering the integration process.
It takes about three to 18 days to transport the cargo from Mombasa port to Kigali.
The most common imports include raw materials, finished goods, foods, and crude oil and others while the region exports tea, coffee and sisal among others to Europe Asia and America.
The Entebbe meeting also agreed to speed up the implementation of the use of Identity Cards as travel documents, introduction of a Single Tourist Visa and establishment of the Single Customs Territory. However the recent trilateral meeting of ministers adopted the use of IDs effective January next year.
The meeting also agreed on the implementation of a single tourist visa among the three countries with effect from next January, to facilitate tourists to move freely among the three partner states.