Uganda, Rwanda Better Off Together Than Divided

Rwandan president Paul Kagame, left, and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni meet at State House Entebbe on March 25, 2018.

Kampala — Uganda and Rwanda have more positives that far outweigh the continuing disputes between the two neighbouring countries.

Some observers have always equated the fight between the two states as a show of egos by their respective leaderships, with citizens paying the price.

Uganda's Constitution lists Banyarwanda as one of the country's ethnic communities and Rwandans running from conflict among other things, have always found a home in Uganda. Citizens from either country have intermarried and many have families on either part of the border.


Uganda is Rwanda's largest source of imports with the two countries standing to lose if the ongoing dispute is not resolved quickly.

Authorities in both countries have taken a tough stance, with Rwanda restricting entry of goods from Uganda, while Trade Minister Amelia Kyambadde has advised traders to cut their losses and sell their commodities elsewhere. Ms Kyambadde has said Uganda's goods have a ready market in other East African countries such as South Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi and neigbouring DRC, which is not part of the regional body.

At stake, however, is at least $181m (Shs668.9b) worth of exports from Uganda to Rwanda and about $15m ( Shs55.4b) in exports from Rwanda to Uganda. The top import origins for Rwanda are Uganda, Kenya, China, India and South Korea.

While Uganda is a top import origin for goods to Rwanda, Uganda does not feature in the top countries that Rwanda exports to. The top export destinations of Rwanda are the United States, Pakistan, China, Kenya and Malaysia.

Rwanda mainly exports cereals, ceramic products, edible vegetables and raw hides and skins to Uganda. On the other hand Rwanda imports, cement, salt, iron and steel, beverages, spirits, vinegar, soaps etc.

Until recently, Rwanda which like Uganda is landlocked, has been relying on the Mombasa Port in Kenya to transport her cargo (both imports and exports).

The cargo, therefore, has to move through Uganda and strained relations mean that this is also affected.

It is not clear whether it is linked to the feud between the two neighbours but Rwanda has over the past few years reduced the volume of her imports through the Northern Corridor and opted for the Central Corridor through

There is, however, informal trade between the people of the two East African partner states that may not be captured in the official trade statistics. Until the ongoing dispute, Rwandans crossed easily to the border districts of Uganda to, among other things, conduct trade.

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