Bureaucrats in Kenya and Uganda have been accused of slowing business between the two neighbours through unrealistic policies.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is on a State visit to Uganda, challenged bureaucrats to formulate policies that facilitate integration rather than hinder East Africans from doing business and communicating with each other.
“We were charting our bilateral way forward when bureaucrats started telling us about legal aspects as concerns movement of certain goods and services. I reminded them that if you go across to Busia or Namanga on the border with Tanzania, these people don’t recognise what you are doing in Nairobi and Kampala they are moving and doing business freely,” said President Kenyatta.
Recently trade disputes have erupted between the neighbours, including cancellation of sugar exports into Kenya from Uganda, ill treatment of Ugandan cargo importers at the Mombasa port and restrictions by Ugandan Authorities on Kenyan beef and cigarette exports. The two countries are also yet to resolve a border dispute involving Migingo Island.
Kenya’s exports to Uganda have slipped in the last three years to Sh60.7 billion last year from a high of Sh75.9 billion in 2011. Uganda, however, remains the largest market for Kenyan exports.
“I am here with my delegation to see how we can share ideas, opportunities and collaborate in resolving the problems that we face,” said President Kenyatta.
He said Kenya and Uganda have progressed in accelerating integration but more efforts are required to ensure all EAC member states move together in deepening cooperation as a region.
Slow decision making by Tanzania and Burundi has seen Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda move to sign co-operation agreements under what has been referred to as “coalition of the willing”.
Kenya and Uganda are also expected to make a decision by end of September on the route for a crude pipeline linking their newly found oil fields to the Kenyan coast.
Two possible routes have been proposed with contracted oil firms saying they cannot make progress with their final investment decision on developing the oil discoveries until the pipeline route and related costs are clear.