Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda yesterday agreed to develop a joint power generation project to increase power supply in the three countries.
This was reached during a meeting of the Heads of State of the three countries in Kampala, Uganda, dubbed the Fourth Northern Corridor Integration Projects Summit.
Since June last year the three countries are pursuing several joint integration initiatives, especially cross-border infrastructure projects, as well as other schemes designed to ease movement of people and goods and services across the region.
Yesterday’s summit, chaired by the host, Yoweri Museveni, was attended by his counterparts, Presidents Paul Kagame and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya.
The meeting was also attended by Burundi’s Vice-President Geravis
Rufykiri and South Sudan’s Foreign minister Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin.
Tanzanian Vice-President Dr. Mohamed Gharib Bilal led his country’s delegation who attended as observers.
“Work on power inter-connection should be completed in the following timeline; Republic of Uganda by February 2015, Republic of Kenya by March 2015 and Republic of Rwanda by April 2015,” a statement released at the end of the summit reads in part.
The leaders also agreed to develop a joint power generation project and have a common mechanism of acquiring way-leaves for not only power generation but also to cover other utilities within the integration projects.
President Kagame praised the achievements made on current joint projects, saying progress made so far was encouraging.
“In January this year, the use of Identity Cards as travel documents started. I was very pleased to use my national ID card to come here yesterday. I was granted only a six-month stay. Next time, I will ask for more. The statistics indicate that these new services are already benefiting our populations,” he said.
He called on partner states to maintain and speed up the momentum, especially on core infrastructure for transport and electricity in order to complete the agreed projects for the benefit of the people in the region.
“I am told Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda will have a common pavilion at next month’s international tourism fair in Berlin. This is not only good business for our countries but a clear indication of our genuine commitment to the broader integration agenda,” he said.
The Heads of State also signed a Defence, Peace and Security Pact to cooperate in security matters.
A single tourism visa and use of national identity cards as travel documents were also launched.
The defence, peace pact is meant to strengthen regional security and partnership in the fight against terrorism, cross-border crime and other regional security threats.
Kagame described the pact as a significant milestone in the fight against cross-border crime and promotion of regional stability.
President Museveni said with strong and focused integration, the leaders of the three countries had in a short time managed to get rid of non-tariff barriers, like roadblocks and multiple administrative procedures along the Northern Corridor.
He urged East Africans to desist from tribalism and instead focus on making bigger markets for products they produce.
On the oil pipeline to be extended to Kigali, the Presidents directed partner states to tender documents for the procurement of Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) for the Eldoret-Kampala Pipeline, with an option of extending the pipeline to Kigali.
The regional leaders also agreed that Rwanda and Uganda adopt the Kenyan financing approach to fast-track joint mobilisation of resources for the development of Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) and report to the next summit in April this year in Kenya.
The Summit was convened to review the progress on implementation of the decisions reached during the 3rd Infrastructure Summit held in Kigali on October 28, 2013 and to provide direction on implementing the Northern Corridor Integration Projects.
In a ministerial meeting on Wednesday that preceded the Heads of State summit, officials from Rwanda, Uganda Kenya and South Sudan submitted reports from various sectors that each country coordinates.
“We cannot talk of development and economic integration when there is no proper infrastructure in place. We also need to jointly address issues preventing free movement of persons if we are to achieve integration,” Amb. Claver Gatete, Rwanda’s Minister for Finance told the ministerial meeting.