The Northern Corridor is the transport corridor that links the EAC landlocked countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan with the Port of Mombasa, Kenya.
The 13th Northern Corridor Integration Projects (NCIP) summit in Kampala kicks off today with several technical and ministerial meetings.
Running under the chairmanship of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, the major highlight of the conference is the impending announcement of the route the oil pipeline from Uganda will take with all indications pointing to the port of Tanga in Tanzania.
Energy minister Irene Muloni confirmed the development last week that it would be poignant to announce the route at the summit because it is a critical infrastructure project for the region.
Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia are attending this summit which is one of the most significant regional steps so far at propping up the region's competitiveness through improving infrastructure.
The Secretary-General of the East African Community and the executive secretary of the Northern Corridor Transit Transport Coordination Authority will attend as observers. Private sector representatives from Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda will also participate.
Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum (UCMP) will represent the oil and gas private sector while Private Sector Foundation and East Africa Business Council will represent the wider interest of the regional private sector.
The Northern Corridor is the transport corridor that links the EAC landlocked countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan with the Port of Mombasa, Kenya. The corridor also serves Northern Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia.
Under the NCIP framework, the presidents and their respective governments continue to provide the political impetus necessary for the implementation of the projects in a faster and more efficient way. The forthcoming meetings will review the status of implementation of the Northern Corridor Integration Projects (NCIP) since the last Summit held in December 2015 in Kigali, Rwanda.
These projects are in the areas of infrastructure development, energy, information technology and socio-economic development.
Key among the regional projects is the Standard Gauge Railway, oil refinery project, pipeline, project financing and electricity generation and interconnectivity.
The others are around ICT, political federation, human resource capacity, commodities exchange, lands, immigration, trade, tourism, labour and services and airspace management.
"Significant progress continues to be made in the implementation of the projects. Some of the highlights include, ongoing construction of the standard gauge railway which has reached 70% completion on the Mombasa-Nairobi sector," read a communiqué from ministry of foreign affairs.
The construction of Malaba-Kampala sector is expected to begin in July 2016.
Also already operational is the issuing of a single visa for tourists to the East African region covering Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, and use of National IDs to ease travel within the region.
The other is the harmonization of cross-border ICT connectivity, legal and regulatory frameworks which has culminated into the establishment of the One Network Area (ONA) for telephone communication and sms. Work is in progress to add data and mobile financial services.
Todate, the establishment of a Single Customs Territory and One Stop Border Posts have enhanced elimination of most non-tariff Barriers hence reducing the cost of doing business.
The transit time for cargo from the Port of Mombasa to Kampala has reduced from 18 days to 4 days. Business volumes have increased as well as earnings both for Revenue Authorities and private sector operators.
Also, transmission lines are being upgraded to facilitate cross-border power export and sales to enable a partner state with surplus power to sell to another with a deficit thereby contributing to stable power supply in the region and acceleration of industrialization.
The private sector is being engaged to participate in the projects including through public-private partnerships.
Establishment of centers of excellence through which selected universities and tertiary institutions will contribute towards developing the requisite human resource and capacity for the projects.