Ministers in charge of implementing the Northern Corridor Integration Projects (NCIP) in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan have until September to conclude financing agreements for construction of Standard Gauge Railway in the region.
The financial agreement is for the construction of Naivasha-Kisumu, Kisumu-Malaba, Malaba -Kampala sections that fall within the NCIP.
A Heads of States Summit, hosted by President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi and attended by President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda with President Salva Kiir of South Sudan represented by a special envoy, Mr Aggrey Tisa Sabuni, further directed that the application for financing of the Kampala -Bihanga-Mirama-Kigali, Tororo-Gulu-Nimule/Gulu-Pakwach section be expedited.
"The summit directs Uganda and South Sudan to fasttrack the bankable feasibility studies for the remaining Northern, western and Bihalanga-Kasese -Mpondwe ; Nimule-juba sections," the presidents said in a joint statement.
During the meeting, Kenya's progress in the construction of SGR earned it praise from the regional Heads of State.
"The Summit lauds 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.
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 President Kenyatta as he cited joint actions such as the single customs territory that has resulted in reduced transit times and cost of goods.
He assured his regional colleagues that Kenya would sustain the momentum in implementation of the remaining phases of the SGR to reach the Kenya-Uganda border town of Malaba.
President Museveni lauded the Summit, saying Uganda's economy relied largely on its neighbours such as Kenya that buy its excess produce such as maize and milk.
"I used to take milk from Kenya but now it's Kenya and other East Africa countries that are consuming our milk. We have about 2.5 billion litres of milk but we can only consume 800 million litres, the remaining 1.7 billion is being consumed by other East Africa countries," said President Museveni.
He directed Ugandan Revenue Authority officials based at the port of Mombasa to ensure that there is no backlog of cargo destined to Uganda at the port.
President Kagame thanked President Kenyatta for reconvening the Summit after a two-year break.
"We can now keep up the momentum in fashioning and implementing joint initiatives and projects for the benefit of our region," said President Kagame.
The summit was also attended by Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto as well as representatives of Tanzania, Burundi and Ethiopia, countries which have observer status in the NCIP.