President Uhuru Kenyatta today hosted Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who is making an official visit to the country. This is the first visit by a Head of Government to Kenya since President Kenyatta was sworn-in to start his second and final five-year term as President last month.

The two leaders held cordial talks also attended by Deputy President William Ruto.

The leaders hailed the strong bilateral relations between the two neighbours, and committed to work to strengthen the ties even further. They also focused on bilateral and regional issues, including progress around the Standard Gauge Railway, Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union, smooth running of the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat, regional troops in Somalia, and peace initiatives in South Sudan.

Mombasa port and SGR

President Kenyatta briefed President Museveni on investments at the Port of Mombasa, including the operation of the second container terminal, which increased the port’s overall capacity to 1.65 million containers. This is the first phase of a three-stage project, which, when completed, will bring the total capacity of the port to 2.7 million containers per year. The modernisation programme has resulted in reduced average time to import and export goods through the port of Mombasa – from 11 days to under 3.5 days, and work for even greater efficiency continues.

President Kenyatta also briefed President Museveni on last Saturday’s commissioning of the Inland Container Depot at Embakasi. With the launch of the cargo rail freight on the Standard Gauge Railway, we expect that most goods will be transported from the Mombasa Port by train, starting in January 2018.

This will further shorten the time of moving goods from Mombasa to Kenya’s hinterland and neighbouring countries as well as the costs for doing so by a further 30 per cent.

Phase Two of the SGR from Nairobi to Naivasha is also moving on schedule and is due to be commissioned in 2019.

Both Presidents agreed on working jointly on taking the SGR line from Naivasha to Kisumu and onwards to Malaba on the border with Uganda. The line to Kisumu will also serve Uganda through the Lake Victoria ports of Jinja, Masaka and Entebbe.

President Museveni said Uganda was ready and committed to the SGR project, and would work with Kenya to achieve its commitment.

EPAs

The two leaders also discussed the status of EPAs with the European Union. In this respect, President Museveni will convene a meeting of EAC Trade Ministers in Kampala in January to chart the way forward as a follow-up to discussions held in Brussels earlier in the year.

Somalia

On the continued deployment of African Union (AMISOM) troops in Somalia, the leaders emphasised that it was necessary for the Somali government to continue building and strengthening its national army. But President Museveni agreed to convene a meeting of Chiefs of Defence Forces from Troop Contributing Countries to discuss progress in the mission. Thereafter, President Museveni would consider convening a summit of the countries with troops in Somalia.

South Sudan

The two leaders committed to continue to work to ensure peace and stability in South Sudan.

EAC

The two leaders reviewed progress at the EAC Secretariat and its other structures and said they would keep a close eye to ensure effectiveness and efficiency in the delivery of its programmes and mandate.

Dhiibo Fikirkaaga

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