Permanent Secretaries Asked to Focus on Northern Corridor Projects
Permanent Secretaries from different ministries, departments and agencies of Uganda and Rwanda are expected to meet today at the ongoing 11th Joint Permanent Commission Meeting (JPC).
Major topics for discussion during the meeting include bilateral relationships and the anticipated revival of the infrastructure projects through the Northern Corridor Projects (NCIP) between the two countries.
Shakilla K Umutoni, the Director General of Africa MINAFFET while commissioning the Senior Officials session on Wednesday said she is hopeful that the permanent secretaries will deliberate on issues which are aimed at developing the two countries.
“It is a blend of political-economic diplomacy. We will be talking about our peoples in terms of trade, justice, and migration; protecting our peoples from deadly diseases like pandemics and connecting our two countries in both soft (ICT) and hard infrastructure (the northern corridor projects),” she said.
The Northern Corridor is a transport corridor that links landlocked countries of Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo with Kenya’s Maritime Port of Mombasa.
The corridor currently serves a population of about 120 Million people including Southern parts of Ethiopia and North Tanzania.
The Northern Corridor Integration Projects (NCIP) was initiated by President Museveni in June 2013, in Entebbe; at A Tripartite Summit that was attended by their different Heads of State including; Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Paul Kagame of Rwanda; to review the state of the East African Community Integration, especially the implementation of projects that have the potential to create a far-reaching impact on the economies and lives of the people of the Member States.
Officials pose for a group photo at the ongoing JPC
“Their Excellences noted that while progress has been made at the EAC level, a number of projects were moving at a slow pace and required decisive action to change the status quo in order for the people in the region to begin reaping the fruits of integration,” reads part of the August 2022 NCIP Report.
The Heads of State agreed to among others; revamp the existing Meter Gauge Railway (MGR) network and construct new Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line from Mombasa – Kampala – Kasese – Kigali, Develop an Oil Product Pipeline from Eldoret -Kampala-Kigali, Develop a Crude Oil Pipeline from Uganda to Kenya link it to South Sudan, Build an Oil Refinery in Uganda.
They also agreed to enhance Electricity Generation, Distribution and Interconnectivity; explore other sources such as Renewable, Nuclear and Geothermal Energy, operationalize a Single Customs Territory, Fast track the Political Federation and Facilitate free movement of people and goods across Member States.
These distributed responsibilities on which projects each country was to coordinate and Uganda was supposed to coordinate projects including; SGR, coordinated by Uganda Development of the Standard Gauge Railway ; ICT Infrastructure, building the Oil Refinery: Project Financing, Private Sector Participation; Fast Tracking Political Federation.
Kenya on the other hand was meant to coordinate projects like; electricity Generation, Distribution and Interconnectivity; refined and crude oil pipelines development; Human Resource Capacity Building; Commodities Exchange; and Land for the identified infrastructure projects.
Rwanda was supposed to coordinate the Single Customs Territory; Immigration, Trade, Tourism, Labor and Services (ITTLS): Defence Cooperation; Peace and Security Cooperation; and Airspace Management.
“Their Excellences tasked the Ministers of Finance under the leadership of the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development of Uganda to secure funding for the implementation of the Northern Corridor Integration Projects,” the Report adds.
As Umutoni told the meeting on Wednesday that the 11th JPC is a milestone in our bilateral cooperation as it demonstrates the renewed commitment that both countries have embarked on to revive our historical cooperation.
“It is an opportunity to revisit where we stopped in the last ten years and what we must do to regain time and opportunities lost,” she said.
“There is a heavy expectation from our superiors/the Permanent Secretaries who will be meeting tomorrow (today). We have to revisit our previous areas of cooperation as agreed in the 10th JPC and discuss new strategic areas of cooperation. We must deliver on this task within one day and a half. I therefore implore this meeting to ensure maximum efficiency in our discussions and proper time management,” added Umutoni.
The JPC, she said is a follow-up to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs’ Political and Diplomatic consultation that happed on 1st September 2022, and subsequent technical meeting of Permanent Secretaries in November 2022.
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