East Africa: EA States Count Losses Over Uganda, Rwanda Row

Trucks await clearance at Gatuna border post (file photo).

Kampala has lost more than $664 million's worth of exports to Rwanda while Kigali has lost $104 million during the three months the Gatuna border has been closed, according to Uganda's East African Community Ministry.

The data excludes losses incurred by other service providers like transporters, health and education providers.

Although Kenya does not share a direct border point with Rwanda, it has been affected indirectly by the closure as Kenyan exports passing through Uganda were also locked out.

Rwanda's minerals, tea, and coffee are transported to the port of Mombasa through Uganda. Now, more than 80 per cent of Rwanda's imports pass through Tanzania.

Kenya exports mainly finished products to Rwanda.

The economic benefits accruing to the EAC member countries have been the main argument for Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta in seeking a quick resolution to the dispute.

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Ugandan Junior Minister for EAC Affairs, Julius Maganda Wandera, said economics rather than politics is responsible for efforts to open the border.

"Our exports have gone down to zero from $166 million per month," he said. "But even Rwanda has not been spared. Rwanda had been exporting goods worth $26 million per month to Uganda, so definitely, if the border is not opened, we will continue to lose out while encouraging smuggling and extortion across the borders."

Also affected are VISA sales that dropped to below five per cent, while meetings scheduled by the Inter-University Council of East Africa flopped, resulting in delays in taking decisions regarding scholarships for students in Rwanda.

The closure has forced Ugandan traders to look for alternative markets.

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