Kenya to host 14th Northern Corridor summit

President Uhuru Kenyatta will on Tuesday host President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda as well as a Special Envoy of President Salva Kiir of South Sudan for the 14th Summit of the Northern Corridor Integration Projects (NCIP) in Nairobi.

The NCIP is a multilateral development initiative established in 2013 and is aimed at speeding up development in the region particularly the improvement of infrastructure for ease of movement of people, goods and services in the region.

On Monday, ministers responsible for infrastructure within the region held to their meeting to take stock of what has been achieved so far.

The meeting was attended by Kenya’s East Africa Community Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya, Uganda’s Foreign Affairs minister, Sam Kutesa, South Sudan’s Minister for Transport and Roads John Luk Jok and Rwanda, Defence minister James Kabarebe.

Mr Munya while addressing the delegates said a lot more remain to be done especially in the areas of developing the rail transport, electricity generation and ICT which are critical for regional integration.

He said that people in East Africa have high expectations as they know the kind of regional partnership they want and expect.

‘Our people expect a powerful economic block capable of negotiating beneficial pacts with the rest of the World at a vantage point, an expanded market that increasingly continues to create opportunities for trade and investment, enhanced welfare for the people through the improvement in delivery of essential services and eradication of poverty as well as secure and peaceful enabling environment,” said Mr Munya.

He said the projects and connected programmes are geared towards enabling the achievement of all expectations.

Mr Munya thanked those involved for their tireless efforts towards following up on the implementation of the agreed projects.

Among the key projects expected to feature prominently during the meeting is the SGR where significant progress has been made with Kenya having successfully completed the Mombasa-Nairobi line and embarked on the Nairobi-Naivasha section which is now at 50 percent completion.

A commercial contract for the Naivasha-Kisumu-Malaba sections and a modern port at Kisumu has already been signed with the China Communication Construction Company (CCCC).

On its part, Uganda signed a commercial contract with China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC) in March 2015 and recently completed the project appraisal exercise which was held parallel to the ongoing negotiations of financing which are expected to be finalized by September this year.

In Rwanda, preliminary engineering design of the new SGR line from Kampala to Kigali was completed in January 2018 while in South Sudan, preparation for a bankable feasibility study for the Nimule-Juba SGR line is on-going and is expected to be complete by December this year. Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) Contract for the line has been signed and the process for obtaining a commercial loan from China EXIM Bank is in its early stages.

Apart from the SGR, the Heads of State and the Special Envoy will be briefed on the progress being made in ICT and will be keen on the status of the One Network Area (ONA) for voice which is fully operational in all the partner states, while ONA for data is operational in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.

Also expected to feature in the deliberations will be the progress of the oil refinery. Uganda signed a Project Framework Agreement (PFA) in April 2018 with the Albertine Graben Refinery Consortium to design, develop, finance and operate a refinery in Hoima. It is expected that a final investment decision (FID) will be made by May 2019.

The land for the refinery has already been acquired. Kenya has been requested to indicate the entity that will hold its 2.5 per cent shareholding in the refinery.

Further, the leaders will assess and provide leadership on the progress being made in power generation, transmission and interconnectivity, a function that is being coordinated by Kenya.

So far, partner States have made tremendous progress in implementing their respective 220kV power transmission lines. Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya completed and commissioned their lines apart from the Bujagali-Tororo transmission line in Uganda, which is at 85 per cent completion.

In addition, partner states are working on a feasibility study on the standardization of 400kV lines, while ensuring full implementation of 220kV transmission lines.

Going forward, the four East African countries are actively stringing together power exchange agreements which are expected to be ready by end of this year and work towards a fully-fledged need based power trade in the region.

Other agenda items expected to feature prominently during the summit include the crude oil pipeline project, the commodities exchange, human resource capacity building and land.

The leaders will also review progress made in immigration, tourism, trade, labour and services; single customs territory; mutual defence cooperation; mutual peace and security cooperation; and airspace management.

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