RWANDA FOCUS (Kigali)
by Kenneth AGUTAMBA 01. July 2013
Photo: Presidents Kenyatta and Kagame shake hands, while President Yoweri Museveni looks on. (Source: The Monitor)
Call it an alliance within an alliance, but that’s probably exactly what East Africa needs if the integration process is to yield fast and tangible results.
So when the trinity of Kagame, Kenyatta and Kaguta met in Kampala last week, it was good news when Rwandans, Kenyans and Ugandans heard that their leaders had discussed not politics but projects that would ease trade and increase business opportunities for them.
The ever inquisitive journalists in Kampala couldn’t stop throwing about the question of the whereabouts of Tanzania’s Kikwete and Burundi’s Nkurunziza but all this was beside the main point.
In the end, what mattered for ordinary nationals of the three states is that the threesome agreed to invest in an oil pipe line and a railway line that would run from Kenya through Uganda to Rwanda.
Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa, who read the Memorandum of Understanding after the meeting by the three presidents, revealed that two oil pipelines would be developed; one pipeline that currently exists and brings oil products from Mombasa to El-doret should be extended to Kampala and then Rwanda.
The MoU further reveals that that pipeline will be configured to have a reverse mechanism so that when Uganda starts harvesting her own Oil, it can pump those products backwards.
Another pipeline, it was revealed, would be constructed for the evacuation of crude oil when it starts flowing and this again will be done between Uganda, South Sudan and Kenya, ending up at the port of Lamu.
Uganda’s Kutesa further revealed that it was also agreed to revamp the existing railway network and also construct a standard gauge railway line in Kenya and Uganda and also extend it to Rwanda.
Projects to reduce transport costs
Uganda’s President told journalists even if they were three leaders, they could still talk about EAC affairs adding that the absence the two other leaders was irrelevant.
“Even if you are two or three, you still talk about EAC issues.”
But even in reality, the alliance of the trinity makes sense. Uganda and Rwanda are two landlocked countries whose main port of entry for their imports is through Mombasa. An alliance with Kenya would therefore make great a lot of sense.
And to make sure these projects don’t end up being white elephant wishes, assignments were shared among the three countries.
Rwanda was charged with coordinating efforts of fast tracking the implementation of one East African Identity Card as well as the Single tourism Visa.
A single tourist Visa would mean a tourist entering East Africa would need just a single Visa to tour in Kenya, Uganda or Rwanda a move which would boost tourism earnings for the three states.
The Single identity card would also mean citizens of the three countries would walk freely across all the borders increasing opportunities to do business.
Meanwhile, Uganda was charged with spearheading the construction of the railway and the oil pipeline refinery while Kenya will oversee the construction of the oil pipeline.
It’s not clear where all the resources of implementing these projects will come from but observers say that if there’s political will then the resources will be easy to mobilize.
During recent summits by heads of state, bilateral negotiations have been encouraged to expedite the implementation of certain decisions. For instance, EAC partner states have been encouraged to go bilateral when it comes to the removal of NTBs on major routes. Rwanda is also working with Burundi and Tanzania on energy and road projects.
Rwanda biggest winner
Of the three states, Rwanda could be the biggest winner considering its distance from the border with Kenya. A fully working railway line would mean Rwandan traders easily move goods from Kenya to Kigali a development that would reduce on the cost of goods in Rwanda.
On the tourism front, Rwanda would also benefit from Kenya’s much larger tourism sector which receives more visitors annually.
An oil pipeline pumping refined oil products through Uganda to Rwanda would also have far reaching benefits considering the time oil tankers spend on the road on a single route from Kenya to Kigali.
There’s also the Geopolitics issue at hand. With these joint investments in place after costing a lot of money, the three states would work towards maintaining stable relations among them so as not to endanger the investments.
And for Rwanda, there’s one more relief; with a smoother route from Mombasa through Uganda, traffic would be shifted from the troublesome Dar-es-laam route where the recurring NTBs are an endless head ache to traders.
While skeptics have been quick to dismiss the meeting of Kagame, Kenyatta and Kaguta as harboring other secret motives, what will be important to the businessman is whether the projects actually take off.
There were no time deadlines given but there will surely be more meetings in the near future by the three leaders and these will be interesting to watch.
Uganda-Kenya oil pipeline to be extended to Rwanda
During a meeting held yesterday in Kampala, the Presidents of Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya, it was agreed that an oil pipeline connecting the three countries.
“It was agreed that we develop two oil pipelines, one pipeline that currently exists and brings products from Mombsa to Eldoret should be extended to Kampala and Rwanda. That pipeline will be configured such that it has to have a reverse mechanism so that when we have our own finished products, it can pump those products backwards,” read a memorandum of understanding signed by Presidents Yoweri Museveni, Uhuru Kenyatta and Paul Kagame.[read more…]
Source: Rwanda Focus