Leaders in east Africa have agreed to work together to build a single railroad and highway network to enhance integration in the region. Leaders and representatives of eight countries met in Kenya Tuesday for the 14th time to discuss the northern corridor project aimed at improving trade and tightening security.
The representatives stressed the need for better movement of people, goods and services with better joint infrastructure.
Kenya got the go-ahead to continue building its standard gauge railways to the Uganda border. Kenya is about to finish the second phase of the rail line between the cities of Nairobi and Naivasha.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta told his counterparts plans are under way to extend the line.
“Preliminary discussions for the funding of Naivasha and Kisumu sections are in progress and we expect to sign the framework agreement to the People’s Republic of China anytime this year,” he said.
Uganda and Rwanda are also planning to extend railway connections to the countries after Kenya completes its part.
The agenda included a way to improve a single customs territory by reducing the number of weigh bridges and police checks to speed up the delivery of goods in landlocked countries like Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.
Kenyatta said the border post between Kenya and Uganda has been effective.
“Malaba — one stop border post total time taken at the crossing has now been substantially reduced to less than seven hours for goods traveling under [a] single customs territory,” he said.
Following oil discoveries in Kenya and Uganda, the leaders agreed to come up with a joint refinery model to facilitate the exportation of petroleum products.
“The heads of state are looking at all these corridors and how they can enhance or support each other and ease the movement between their countries, both on road networks as well as railway network and all other means of transport within the region. So the northern corridor has been very important,” said Gerrishon Ikiara, an international economic affairs lecturer at the University of Nairobi.
The southern corridor network, which connects Tanzania to Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi is also under construction.
Countries in the region are focusing on at least 16 infrastructure projects, with the goal of transforming their people socially and economically.