30 August 2013

East Africa: EAC Presidents Set Timelines for Major Integration Projects

Photo: Focus
Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda approve single visa and use of national identity cards for travel (file photo).

The Presidents of Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda have directed their respective finance ministers to come up with a comprehensive mechanism showing the financing of proposed regional infrastructural projects.

Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta, Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni also set timelines on the projects which include the Mombasa-Kampala-Kigali railway track, Eldoret-Kampala-Kigali oil pipeline and a regional power transmission line.

According to Monique Mukaruliza, the national coordinator of the Tripartite Initiative (between Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya), the construction of the oil pipeline for refined petroleum products for the route Eldoret-Kampala - Kigali will be completed by 2017 while the Single Customs territory is expected to be launched before end of this year. The rail line project, which is estimated to cost $3.5 billion, is expected to be completed by 2018.

"Also effective January 2014, citizens of the three countries shall start using their Identity cards (Rwanda and Kenya) and voter cards (Uganda) as travel documents within the three countries," Mukaruliza said in a statement yesterday.

Construction of the Mombasa-Nairobi segment of the railway line commences in November.

According to a communiqué released after the Second Infrastructure Summit in Mombasa on Wednesday, the three leaders directed the ministers to set up the mechanism within a month.

"Ministers responsible for finance should meet within one and a half months to come up with mechanisms to raise and schedule financing for all the proposed projects," the communiqué reads.

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 along 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.

Burundi, Sudan considered:

The Presidents agreed to consider Burundi and South Sudan as part of the framework after they attended the summit as observers.

This implies that five regional countries are likely to work together in fast-tracking the regional projects aimed at accelerating the socio-economic development of the regional peoples.

"Representatives from Burundi and South Sudan should be part and parcel of the projects and incorporated into the Technical Committees in relevant thematic areas," the communiqué further stated.

Mukaruliza said that Burundi and South- Sudan were invited as observers during the summit and later requested to be incorporated in the ongoing initiative.

"They requested to be part of the initiative and they will have to present their level of preparations in implementing the projects in the next summit," she said in interview

The next infrastructure heads of state summit will be held in October in Kigali.

President Kenyatta highlighted progress made since the Entebbe Summit in June adding the projects were on the right track to be achieved.

"In connection with the development of the oil pipeline, we are happy to report that the first phase of developing the Eldoret-Kampala-Kigali pipeline is on course, with the initial portion currently undergoing bid evaluation while the terms of reference for the feasibility study in relation to the second portion are now complete," he said.

He added; "Our ministers have deliberated in commendable detail the procurement and financing options for the Kampala-Kigali segment."

Kenyatta further expressed optimism about addressing all the regional challenges and promotion of integration agenda by collaborating together.

On the issue of issuance of EAC single tourist visa, the summit directed ministers responsible to report on the progress of the decision between Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda at the 3rd Infrastructure Summit in October, 2013, in readiness for implementation by 1st January, 2014

Ministers were also tasked to finalise on the modalities to start using national ID cards as travel documents before October 15, in readiness for implementation by January 1.

The South Sudan President Gen Salva Kiir Mayardit was represented by his foreign affairs minister, Dr Barnaba Marial Benjamin while Eng. Deogratias Rurimunzu, the Burundian transport and public works minister represented President Pierre Nkurunziza.

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