Regional ministers ate meeting to assess the progress of the Northern Corridor project.
By Moses Walubiri
A meeting of Council of Ministers is underway to deliberate on the progress of the Northern Corridor Integration project (NCIP).
This follows a meeting of experts on Monday to assess the progress of the ambitious scheme.
Delegations at the sixth summit on NCIP which opened in Kigali on Monday will tomorrow be joined by heads of state from four regional countries –Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi and South Sudan as efforts to fast track the ambitious infrastructure projects picks steam.
The NCIP is a multipronged infrastructure project that seeks to improve infrastructural efficiency in Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya – with the ultimate aim of facilitating regional integration.
Infrastructure envisaged by the project includes standard railway gauge, energy, roads, ICT, and oil pipelines for the region’s budding oil sector.
President Yoweri Museveni and his regional counterparts, Salva Kir (South Sudan), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya) and Burundi’s Pierre Nkuruzinza are expected to discuss recommendations on the project by ministers from their countries.
“The President is expected to grace the Kigali summit. The heads of state are keen to expedite this mega infrastructure project that is why meetings of this nature are held after every two months,” said Fred Opolot, ministry of foreign affairs spokesperson.
Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda ministers in charge of infrastructure sector on Tuesday discussed the progress of the NCIP following a meeting of experts a day earlier to assess the progress of the ambitious scheme thus far.
According to the Spokesperson Ministry of East African Community Affairs, Chris Magoba, the report emanating from the council of ministers’ meeting will inform today’s heads of state summit.
Magoba said the issue of constructing a standard railway gauge is likely to be an integral component of today’s summit as the three countries seek to secure viable means of completing the project.
The construction of the Mombasa – Kigali standard railway gauge was agreed upon between Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda as an integral mechanism of increasing the competitiveness of the three countries through reducing the cost of doing business.
The project is expected to cost $13.5b with Jin-Yong Cai, the chief executive of International Finance Corporation, an institution affiliated to the World Bank expected to proffer advice on how the projects can be funded.
Recently, Uganda and Rwanda signed a consultancy service for the preliminary engineering designs of Kampala-Kigali standard gauge railway (SGR).
Also, Uganda plans to invite six Chinese companies to compete for $8 billion worth of contracts for railway works. Actual construction works are expected to start in October.
Kenya kick started the process in 2013 for the line to run from Mombasa to the capital, Nairobi. This same line will be extended to the Rwandan capital of Kigali and works are expected to last five years.
Most of the funding and works will be done by China which has already committed large funding for both power and roads.
Both Tanzania and Ethiopia are expected to attend the summit as observers, with the latter, according to Rwanda’s NCIP national coordinator, Monique Mukaruliza, keen to find market for its 2000MW power surplus.
In December 2012, the World Bank and the Ethiopian government signed a $243 million loan agreement to bankroll a section of Eastern Electricity High Way Project connecting Ethiopia’s electrical grid with Kenya.
Under this arrangement, Rwanda would be able to import its share through Lessos in Kenya connecting to Tororo-Bujagari-Kawanda-Masaka-Mbarara Mirama up to Kigali.
Heads of state to discuss Northern Corridor project