Infrastructure projects in EAC on track, say leaders
Heads of State from East Africa region have welcomed progress in the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway.
The Presidents, who attended the 13th Summit on the Northern Corridor Integration Projects in Kampala last month, noted that 75 per cent of works on the Mombasa-Nairobi section of the railway has been done.
SGR is expected to have reached Nairobi by June next year.
Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister, Debretsion Gebremichael attended the summit.
In addition, representatives from South Sudan, Burundi, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were also present.
In a communique read at the end of the summit, the leaders pointed out that the integration projects have made significant strides. The Kenya section of the SGR was cited as the best example. The construction of the Malaba-Kampala section is expected to begin in July.
Kenya and China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), the firm building the SGR, has signed an agreement for the construction of the Nairobi-Naivasha section.
The Chinese firm will also build the Naivasha-Kisumu-Malaba, and the Kisumu Port-Inland Container Depot at $5.3 billion (Sh530 billion).
Uganda has already signed contracts for the funding of the link from Malaba to its capital, Kampala.
Feasibility studies for the Rwanda and South Sudan sections should be ready by next month and December respectively.
The Summit renewed the resolve to speed up the Northern Corridor Integration Projects. Dr Gebremichael, the Ethiopian representative, gave the assurance that Ethiopia was committed to the regional projects and ‘’would do everything possible to fulfill whatever necessary to realise the regional development plans’’.
He expressed Ethiopia’s commitment to participate in the implementation of the SGR and Power Generation, Transmission and Interconnectivity projects.
He also explained that Ethiopia was ready to be involved in as many other projects as possible, depending on the relevance to Ethiopia and the sub-region.
Ethiopia has set up a national committee to vet experts for the joint technical committee and a national coordinator to follow up the projects.
In the 15-point communiqué, the summit covered ICT infrastructure, crude oil and refineries. Other issues were political federation, project financing, power generation, air space management, human resource capacity building, commodities exchange, land for the Infrastructure Corridor, immigration, tourism, trade, labour and services.
Single Customs Territory, private sector, defence, and peace and security cooperation were the other matters discussed.
Uganda and Tanzania agreed that the proposed 1,410km pipeline would be built from Hoima in western Uganda to the Tanzanian port of Tanga.
On its part, Kenya will build its pipeline Lokichar in Turkana County to Lamu. But Uganda and Kenya agreed to continue cooperating on petroleum issues.
The EAC has already implemented the single visa for tourists to the East African region covering Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, and use of national IDs to ease travel within the region.
Another achievement is the harmonisation of cross-border ICT connectivity, and regulatory frameworks. As a result, the One Network Area for telephone communication has been set up.
The establishment of a Single Customs Territory and One-Stop Border Posts has helped eliminate most non-tariff barriers, and reduced the cost of doing business.
Cargo transit time from the Mombasa port to Kampala has reduced from 18 days in 2012 to four days since the Jubilee Government came to office. Business volumes have increased as well as earnings for revenue authorities and private sector operators.
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