Kampala: The 7th Northern Corridor Integration projects kicked off in Kampala, Uganda, with the aim of reviewing the implementation progress of Northern Corridor Integration Projects discussed and agreed during previous meetings and Summits and to provide direction on deepening regional integration.
The Summit has started on Monday with the meeting of senior officials, followed by a Ministerial meeting on this Tuesday and then the Summit of Heads of State which will take place on Wednesday 08 October.
The Northern Corridor Integration Projects is an initiative aimed at fast tracking regional development through regional infrastructure, trade and political and economic integration.
The inaugural Summit of Northern Corridor nations was held in Entebbe in June 2013, bringing together Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda.
Since the first Summit held in Entebbe in June 2013, a lot has been done in terms of infrastructure, ICT, trade, political and economic integration to list the few.
The second Summit was held in Mombasa and marked by the commissioning of Berth 19, a project anticipated to increase capacity of the Kenyan port to serve the entire region.
The 3rd Summit which welcomed South Sudan to the initiative was held in Kigali on 20 October 2013 and launched the single customs territory.
The 4th Summit of the Northern Corridor Integration Projects was held in Kampala on 20 February 2014 and the 5th Northern Corridor Integration Projects Summit was held in Nairobi, Kenya on the 2nd May 2014.
The 5th Summit launched the Kenya National Electronic Single Window System aimed at “simplifying trade processes for regional competitiveness”. Both Burundi and Ethiopia participated in the Summit with observer’s status.
The 6th Summit was held in Kigali on 3rd July 2014. During this Summit, Heads of State launched the East African Commodity Exchange (EAX); a platform that will create a commodities platform for the entire East African Region and will be the key to linking farmers to markets.
The Heads of State also signed the amendments to the Mutual Defense Pact intended to bring the Pact in conformity with National Laws and Constitutions of respective Partner States.
The projects spearheaded by Rwanda include the use of National IDs as travel documents, launched during the 4th Northern Corridor Integration Projects Summit in February 2014.
Rwanda is also leading on the implementation of the ‘single tourist visa’, the establishment of single customs territory, defense and security cooperation, air space management and connectivity.
Projects headed by Kenya and Uganda include construction of the railway, oil pipeline and refinery and electricity generation.
The region has made great strides in removing trade barriers between member states. The Single Customs Territory launched in January has led to the reduction of transit days for goods, from Mombasa to Kampala, from 18 to 5 days and to Kigali from 21 to 8 days.
Movement of citizens of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda is now easier with the use of national IDs and Student Cards to travel to any of the participating countries.
Other key projects include the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway line that will connect the Mombasa port to Nairobi and eventually Kampala and Kigali.
Another mega project is the oil pipeline to connect Hoima in Uganda with the Lamu port where a refinery will also be constructed.
The Northern Corridor is the transport corridor linking the landlocked countries of Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan and Burundi to Kenya’s Maritime Port of Mombasa. The transport corridor also serves Democratic Republic of Congo and Northern Tanzania.
Source:: Rwanda News Agency
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