The Heads of State under the Northern Corridor Integration Projects (NCIP) initiative yesterday commended ministers for progress to date on NCIP projects and urged faster implementation.
Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan, are the four countries that are part of the initiative.
President Paul Kagame, his counterpart from Kenya- President Uhuru Kenyatta and their host Ugandan President were in Kampala to attend the 13th Summit of the NCIP.
Aggrey Tisa Sabuni, South Sudan’s Presidential Advisor on Economic Affairs, represented President Salva Kirr.
The summit discussed progress on various regional projects including energy, infrastructure, trade, information technology, immigration, tourism as well as defense and security cooperation.
Emphasizing the need to achieve goals set by the summit, President Kagame called for more urgency and faster delivery:
“As we have just heard, we continue to make strides in important initiatives. However, it is also evident that further progress in key areas can be faster. We must maintain the urgency that informed these initiatives in the first place, so that we can achieve the targets we set.” President Kagame said.
A key area highlighted by the Heads of State is power generation and sharing of energy across borders.
“On Power Generation, Transmission and Interconnectivity, the Summit directed Ministers to address the delays in completion of transmission lines, acquisition of land and way leaves which has hindered the commencement of power trade,” reads a communiqué signed by the Presidents.
The leaders also directed that a joint inspection be undertaken on construction of the 220 kV and 400 kV transmission lines to determine the progress, and asked the Ministers to report to the next summit scheduled for Nairobi, Kenya.
Infrastructure Minister James Musoni told The Sunday Times that there was renewed commitment to expedite the process to not only enable easy trade between Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda but the whole region.
“We agreed to have a framework to determine the transportation charges of the power in the lines. Those transportation charges will have a clear regulatory framework so that if a line comes through one country that country cannot decide on its own how much they will charge,” he said.
The regional leaders welcomed the commitment by African Development Bank to finance the feasibility study for the Olwiyo-Juba 400kV transmission line.
On Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) Development, the Presidents commended progress in the construction works of the Mombasa-Nairobi section, saying it’s on course for completion in June 2017.
The Presidents also expressed concern on the cost of air travel in the region, and directed Transport ministers to continue engaging the airline industry and stakeholders to enhance competition.
On Immigration, tourism, trade, labour and services, the Presidents welcomed the adoption of the joint schedule for total liberalisation of free movement of labour and directed the schedule be implemented expeditiously.
The summit was also attended by Debretsion Gebremichael, Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinator of Finance and Minister of ICT, Tanzania’s EAC affairs Minister Dr. Augustine P. Mahiga, and Burundi’s Ambassador to Uganda Jean-Bosco Barege.
Others were DRC’s Charge d’Affaires to Uganda Jean Pierre Massala, the Regional Director of the African Development Bank Gabriel Negatu, and Donat Bagula, Executive Secretary of the Northern Corridor Transit and Transport Coordination Authority (NCTTCA)