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No pledges for region’s pipeline, Open Sky deals

Leaders from the region remained non-committal on key regional integration projects such as a joint pipeline and the single air market after meeting in Nairobi last week June 26, for the Northern Corridor Integration Project Summit.

One of the key projects that the leaders from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan had been pushing was the Eldoret-Kampala-Kigali Refined Petroleum Products Pipeline Project, after initially agreeing to jointly invest in it at the 11th summit in 2014. However, this doesn’t seem to be a priority any more.

The pipeline was meant to connect with the existing 14-inch diameter pipeline running from Nairobi to Eldoret and would have eased the transport of petroleum products to and from Kampala and Eldoret, including a spur line to Jinja.

Already, Kenya has upgraded 220km of its 450km Mombasa-Nairobi line at a cost of $490.3 million, with the fully upgraded line commissioning scheduled for next month.

Once completed, the new 20-inch pipeline, an enhancement of the current 14-inch line, is expected to pump between 750,000 litres and 1,000,000 litres of fuel per hour from Mombasa to Nairobi — effectively cutting down on the number of trucks transporting oil by road. The current line has a capacity of just 450,000 litres per hour.

Kenya has also constructed four storage tanks valued at $52 million to keep higher volumes of oil products.

The government has also completed a 10-inch, 122kms $54 million pipeline from Sinendet to Kisumu, where a new oil jetty worth $17 million is already operational. The country is also set to complete the construction of a new Eldoret truck-loading facility.

The feasibility study for construction of the joint refined products pipeline project was completed in 2015 and was waiting for Northern Corridor Integration Projects partner states to mobilise funds, but it seems the project has now been put on hold.

According to initial designs, the joint pipeline project comprised two sections: Eldoret-Kampala and Kampala-Kigali. The pipeline was designed to be a 12-inch one, with storage terminals constructed in Kampala, Mbarara and Kigali.

The whole project was to cost $1.5 billion, with the Eldoret-Kampala phase costing $400 million and covering a distance of 350km, while the Kampala-Kigali line was to cost $1.1 billion and cover a distance of 434km.

The project would also see the construction of mainline pumps, intermediate pump stations and road or rail loading facilities for tankers.

Open skies

The leaders also remained non-committal about the air liberalisation agreement, barely six months after Uganda and Tanzania failed to join their regional counterparts in signing the Single African Air Transport Market, which only Kenya and Rwanda signed.

“The Summit directed the ministers responsible for transport to expedite implementation to enhance competitiveness and reduce the cost of air travel in the region.

“The heads of state further directed ministers responsible for transport to expedite the signing and implementation of the liberalised Air Service Agreements,” a communique from the Tuesday meeting said.

Implementation of the liberalised air service agreements in the region is bound to be complicated as Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi have raised issues to do with competition within their markets and how this would curtail their plans of having a national airline.

The African Union is banking on the three countries to join the Single African Air Transport Market by the next summit, which is scheduled for next month.

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