MOMBASA – Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and visiting Ugandan counterpart, Yoweri Museveni, had resolved to speed up regional and continental integration as part of efforts to boost trade.
The two leaders on Wednesday evening in the coastal city of Mombasa agreed that continental and regional integration is the path to transforming African countries from being developing to developed economies.
"I want to assure you that is a commitment that we share," Kenyatta said according to a statement issued on Thursday by his office after hosting visiting Ugandan leader at a state banquet.
The Kenyan leader said that movement of cargo from the Port of Mombasa to Kampala, Uganda that previously took 21 days has drastically reduced to seven days since he took over as president thanks to standard gauge railway (SGR).
He said the SGR which is being constructed by Chinese company will reach lakeside town of Naivasha by August, adding that his government will avail land in the town for Uganda to develop a dry port for its cargo.
"I have confirmed to President Museveni that 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," Kenyatta said.
As the government implements the long-term plan to move all cargo from the road to the SGR, Kenyatta said, his administration is working on the complete elimination of barriers that slow 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," Kenyatta said according to the statement. On his part, President Museveni said African countries must embrace economic and political integration in order to spur prosperity and ensure strategic security for their citizens.
Museveni hailed the revival of the East African Community, joining of COMESA by East African states and signing of the continental free trade area saying those were 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," said Museveni. 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.