President Uhuru Kenyatta began his first state visit to Uganda on Saturday to a 21-gun salute and talks covering security, anti-terrorism, and growing trade between the two eastern African neighbours.
After inspecting a guard of honour at State House Entebbe, President Kenyatta and his host President Yoweri Museveni held one-on-one talks focusing largely on growing investments and trade, as well as the building of an oil pipeline from the Ugandan oil town of Hoima, through Lokichar to Lamu.
The leaders agreed that subject to financing arrangements and Kenya guaranteeing security, the pipeline project should stand without further delay. Kenyan exports to Uganda stand at just above $700 million compared to imports worth $180 million.
President Museveni said that he expected to see continued progress in bridging the trade gap.
At bilateral talks also at State House Entebbe, President Kenyatta stressed that for East Africans to achieve prosperity Kenya and Uganda need to together work in partnership.
“Kenya and Uganda are joined at the hip, we are brothers and sisters who need one another and the main purpose of our visit is to strengthen the already good partnership that exists between our countries and our two people,” said President Kenyatta.
“We are stronger when we work together, we are stronger when we do things together and I think Kenya has already taken up that spirit.” He added.
President Kenyatta pointed out that Kenya cannot be stable and prosperous if its neighbours are facing challenges and that the two countries need to work closely with each other in sorting out challenges facing other countries within the region.
“Be it South Sudan, Somalia or Burundi, we have always taken a common position and a common stand in recognition that we need that stability to achieve the objectives that we have set for our people,” said the President.
On his part host President Yoweri Museveni said the two countries have continuously worked closely to ensure regional security and more so in tackling terrorism.
He commended President Kenyatta for being proactive in ensuring that whatever agreements are reached between the two nations implementation is done promptly.
“We are very, very happy with the actions of His Excellency especially when he came to government It used take 18 days to transport goods from Mombasa to Uganda, it is now taking three days,” President Museveni said.
“Now, with the railway which we are planning, it will take just one day so that the people of the interior of Africa are not disadvantaged with their geography, “said President Museveni.
President Kenyatta is accompanied by a delegation heavy in the economic cluster, which includes Cabinet Secretaries Amb. Amina Mohamed (Foreign Affairs and International Trade), Henry Rotich (National Treasury), Amb. Raychelle Omamo (Defence) and James Macharia (Health and Acting CS for Infrastructure).
Principal Secretaries Eng Joseph Njoroge for Energy and Petroleum and Sicily Kariuki of Agriculture are also in Uganda. Amb. Omamo will separately review the military deployment in Somalia under the AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM) when she meets her counterpart on Sunday.
On Sunday, President Kenyatta will address the Ugandan business community and Kenya’s diaspora. He is due to deliver a major address to Uganda’s parliament on Monday morning.
Later on Monday, President Kenyatta, President Museveni and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn will meet under the auspices of IGAD to discuss the latest developments in South Sudan.