BY MWAKERA MWAJEFA
Kenya and Uganda have committed themselves to regional and continental integration saying this is the right path to transforming African countries from developing to developed economies.
Endorsing President Yoweri Museveni’s long standing commitment to regional or continental integration, President Uhuru Kenyatta assured him of his backing in moving Africa fortunes in terms of the development agenda.
The President spoke at Mombasa State House last night when he hosted the visiting Ugandan leader at a state banquet.
On trade between the two countries, President Kenyatta said that movement of cargo from the Port of Mombasa to Kampala that previously took 21 days has drastically reduced to 7 days since he took over as President.
By August this year, according to the President the SGR will have reached Naivasha and his government will avail land in the town for Uganda to develop a dry port for its cargo.
“I have confirmed to President Museveni with that development in Naivasha and then moving the SGR to Malaba, goods will be able to move from Mombasa to Malaba in just two days,” he added.
As the Kenyan government implements the long-term plan to move all cargo from the road to the SGR, Kenyatta’s administration is working round the clock to eliminate some of the barriers that are slowing down movement of cargo such as multiple roadblocks and unnecessary weigh bridges.
“But more importantly, it (SGR) will reduce the cost of transport for Ugandan investors and Uganda itself. It will improve efficiency of Mombasa Port to the benefit of our people,” the President said.
On the transportation of petroleum products, President Kenyatta said his government was finalizing the construction of the Kisumu petroleum jetty that will open business across the greatest lake in Africa.
“For the first time since colonial days, we are utilizing Lake Victoria for transportation thereby reducing the cost of moving fuel (petroleum) to Uganda and increasing potential for trade between the two countries,” he added.
In his remarks, President Museveni said African countries must embrace economic and political integration in order to spur prosperity and ensure strategic security for their citizens.
He praised the founding fathers of African states such as Julius Nyerere, Jomo Kenyatta, Kwameh Nkrumah, Sekou Toure and other Pan Africanists for championing continental and regional economic and political integration.
The Ugandan leader hailed the revival of the East African Community (EAC), joining of COMESA by East African states and signing of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) saying those are progressive steps towards the political integration of the continent.
“Economic integration if it is implemented properly will result in the modernization of African countries. They will be stimulated to produce more,” he said.
He called for fast tracking of the political integration of East African states saying the region can easily form a political confederation because her people have much in common unlike other economic blocks which lack a unifying factor beyond economic integration.
“Above all, East Africa and eastern Congo speak Kiswahili. Therefore, the infrastructure for a political integration in East Africa is very strong,” the President said.
The State Banquet was attended by Deputy President William Ruto, Cabinet Secretaries Monica Juma, James Macharia, Peter Munya, Najib Balala and Adan Mohammed. Also present were Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka, Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho, Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya and Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka.