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MOMBASA (Xinhua) -- Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta [right] and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni address a press briefing at State House in Mombasa. Yoweri Museveni began a two-day state visit to Kenya on Wednesday as part of efforts to shore up bilateral ties between the two countries. XINHUA PHOTO - JOY NABUKEWA

Kenya and Uganda to boost trade ties and regional integration

MOMBASA (Xinhua) -- Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and visiting Ugandan counterpart, Yoweri Museveni, had resolved to speed up regional and continental integration as part of efforts to boost trade.

The two leaders on Wednesday evening in the coastal city of Mombasa agreed that continental and regional integration is the path to transforming African countries from being developing to developed economies.

"I want to assure you that is a commitment that we share," Kenyatta said according to a statement issued on Thursday by his office after hosting visiting Ugandan leader at a state banquet.

The Kenyan leader said that movement of cargo from the Port of Mombasa to Kampala, Uganda that previously took 21 days has drastically reduced to seven days since he took over as president thanks to standard gauge railway (SGR).

He said the SGR which is being constructed by Chinese company will reach lakeside town of Naivasha by August, adding that his government will avail land in the town for Uganda to develop a dry port for its cargo.

"I have confirmed to President Museveni that with that development in Naivasha and then moving the SGR to Malaba, goods will be able to move from Mombasa to Malaba in just two days," Kenyatta said.

As the government implements the long-term plan to move all cargo from the road to the SGR, Kenyatta said, his administration is working on the complete elimination of barriers that slow down movement of cargo such as multiple roadblocks and unnecessary weigh bridges.

"But more importantly, it (SGR) will reduce the cost of transport for Ugandan investors and Uganda itself. It will improve efficiency of Mombasa Port to the benefit of our people," Kenyatta said according to the statement.

On his part, President Museveni said African countries must embrace economic and political integration in order to spur prosperity and ensure strategic security for their citizens.

Museveni hailed the revival of the East African Community, joining of COMESA by East African states and signing of the continental free trade area saying those were progressive steps towards the political integration of the continent.

"Economic integration, if it is implemented properly, will result in the modernization of African countries. They will be stimulated to produce more," said Museveni.

He called for fast tracking of the political integration of East African states saying the region can easily form a political confederation because her people have much in common.


Uganda leader urges East Africa to buy local products

MOMBASA (Xinhua) -- Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Wednesday called on East African countries to buy products made from the region to minimize importation of goods that can be manufactured locally.

Museveni, who is on a two-day state visit to Kenya, said that countries are losing millions of dollars from importation of goods because of giant factories in East Africa which have since broken down.

He called on Kenya to fast-rack revival of Webuye Paper Mill which was critical in supplying paper products in East Africa.

Museveni said that his country imports paper worth 13 billion shillings (130 million U.S. dollars) from Finland, yet Kenya has a sleeping paper mill.

"It must be stopped. Why doesn’t Uganda buy paper from Kenya?. We have to stop enriching others," he told a joint news conference with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in the port city of Mombasa.

"When the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) is finished, it will take 24 hours from here to Kampala ...

"This should have been done before and there’s no other way these countries’ economies are going to grow if we don’t solve this issue of movement," said Museveni.

He pointed out that the enhanced efficiency in handling of cargo at the port and in the movement of goods along the Northern Corridor has been of great benefit to the economies of both Kenya and Uganda, and for the other countries that depend on the Port of Mombasa for their import and export business, including Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

He commended President Kenyatta for the rapid development of infrastructure in Kenya.

"While we are still waiting for the railway (in Uganda), the Kenyan government has already moved and is now constructing modern jetties and petroleum pipelines," Museveni said.

"That means that in the coming years, a lot of cargo will move from the roads to the railway and fuel will move from the roads to the pipeline and across the lake through tugboats which can carry the fuel across the lake cheaper, faster and safer,’ he added.

On his part, Kenyatta commended the two delegations for ensuring that the inaugural session of the Joint Commission for Cooperation is a success.

"I am particularly pleased with the progress we have made in recent years in the areas of trade promotion, the free movement of goods, services and people across our borders, and the people-to-people interactions," Kenyatta said.

He noted the success of the One Stop Border Post at Busia and the ongoing improvement of infrastructure and processes at Malaba and Lwakhakha Border Points.

Kenyatta called for an increase in the number of one-stop-border-posts to promote the free movement of goods and people between the two countries.

He lauded the government and the people of Uganda for their trust and continued use of the Port of Mombasa.

"I wish to express my Government’s full commitment to continue improving service delivery at the Port.

"I am pleased to report that the time taken to transport cargo between Mombasa and Nairobi has significantly reduced with the full operationalization of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) between Mombasa and Nairobi," Kenyatta said.


Ugandan leader begins two-day state visit to Kenya

MOMBASA (Xinhua) -- Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni began a two-day state visit to Kenya on Wednesday as part of efforts to shore up bilateral ties between the two countries.

Museveni, who arrived in the coastal city of Mombasa, is expected to hold bilateral talks with his host President Uhuru Kenyatta and later attend a business forum with their respective delegations.

Kenyatta’s office said the two leaders on Thursday are expected to tour the Port of Mombasa which is a major gateway to countries including Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi.


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