Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta is on a state visit in Uganda. Mr Kenyatta came along with his wife Margaret and son Muhoho, together with a delegation. Much as the visit is seen by many as political, actions speak louder than words, if you want to know what the visit is all about. The Kenyan leader yesterday addressed Parliament, and on Sunday visited Quality Chemical Industries in Luzira, a pharmaceutical plant that manufactures malaria and anti-retroviral medicine. Mr Kenyatta also addressed the Ugandan business community and Kenyans in Uganda.
Apart from the political relations Uganda enjoys with Kenya, the two countries are historically intertwined, and are strong business partners who hardly exist without the other. Kenya is Uganda’s biggest business partner in the region.
According to President Museveni, last year bilateral trade between Uganda and Kenya was valued at $880 million, with Kenyan exports to Uganda standing at $700 million versus imports of $180 million.
The two countries, therefore, need each other and must avoid anything that can hurt such cordial relations. The 2008 post-election violence in Kenya reminded us of the hard reality, when Uganda-bound goods were briefly cut off by rioters in parts of Kenya, making life for the business community in Uganda and ordinary consumers hard.
We commend the efforts made by Kenya and Uganda’s leaders to knock down the red tape that held back trade and movement between the two countries, and the larger East Africa Community. Now, traders spend less money given the fact that cargo between Mombasa port and Kampala takes three days from 18 days previously.
The Northern Corridor infrastructure projects, including the Standard Gauge Railway, will further enhance trade between the two countries, speed up and cut the cost of movement of people and cargo in our region.
It is when ordinary people benefit from bilateral and multilateral relations with other nations that diplomacy makes sense to the wananchi.
Uganda is home to thousands of Kenyan workers and students. Kenya has also been host to thousands of Uganda over the decades, particularly during the time our country was at war in the 1970s and 1980s. Uganda reciprocated the gesture when we played host to the refugees of the 2008 post-election violence. It is such history and factors that Mr Kenyatta’s speech on pulling down walls that divide our countries, touch the aspirations of many East Africans.
There are many opportunities that abound by seamless borders for the people of our countries. It is, therefore, critical that the people of Kenya and Uganda continue enjoying their long history of co-operation successive regional integration arrangements.
The issue: Integration.
Our view: It is, therefore, critical that the people of Kenya and Uganda continue enjoying their long history of co-operation successive regional integration arrangements.