President Yoweri Museveni and his visiting Tanzanian counterpart, Dr. John Pombe Joseph Magufuli, have called for more business and trade between Uganda and the Tanzania.
The Presidents made the call today during a bilateral meeting at Masaka State Lodge in Masaka Municipality. The Tanzanian leader is currently on a 3-day state visit to Uganda at the invitation of President Museveni.
President Museveni said that during the meeting, they discussed a number of strategic and statistical issues such as trade between their two countries.
“Trade between Tanzania and Uganda is very small compared to trade between Uganda and Kenya,” he noted.
President Museveni said that while trade between Kenya and Uganda has been high, it has also reduced. “Kenya has been selling to Uganda US$ 700 million but this has also come down to US$ 500 million,” he said.
“Before 1986, Kenya was selling to Uganda US$200 million while Uganda was only selling US$12 million but Uganda sells US$500 million to Kenya today,” he said.
President Museveni called upon Ministers of both Uganda and Tanzania, to identify more areas in trade where the two countries would cooperate more. “We need to analyze what Tanzania is producing and why Ugandans are not buying from there and address these issues,” he said.
Mr. Museveni said that although Uganda will in the future purchase gas from Tanzania for industrial and domestic use, there was a need to address the limitations such as the high transport costs that limit trade between the two countries.
“Tanzania has done well and repaired 770 miles of the railway line from Dar-es-Salaam to Mwanza and also repaired Pemba ferry. However, the problem comes with the 11 km from Port Bell to Central Kampala that is not repaired,” he said.
He said that there was need to reduce the transport costs with rail and water transport to boost trade between the two countries adding that rail and water transport would reduce by 60 – 70 percent the high transport costs incurred when using road transport.
Visiting President Magufuli re-affirmed his government’s commitment to partner with Uganda on development projects. “The relationship between Uganda and Tanzania is very historical and the trade between our countries should not be that way,” he said.
He noted that the big population numbers in the two countries provide a ready market for trade. Uganda has a population of about 40 million while Tanzania has about 55 million.
During the meeting, the two Heads of State also agreed to cooperate on a number of electrcification projects such as the Lushengezi 35 megawatts hydro power station, and the Kitageti 14 megawatts station. The two governments also agreed to work to extend power to Nangoma, an enclave of Uganda on the south of River Kagera in Rakai district.
President Magufuli called upon the Ministers of both countries to take firm and bold decisions that would promote cooperation between Uganda and Tanzania. He also called for strict measures to protect the environment and cited the nomadic tribes near the Mutukula border who that ‘think’ all the grass /green is theirs.
On is part, President Museveni called for a joint animal vaccination programme at the border against foot and mouth disease so that the nomadic tribes do not take disease from one country to another. He also urged the responsible Ministers in the two countries, to work together and develop vaccines against foot and mouth disease.
President Magufuli commended President Museveni’s leadership in Uganda and Africa at large. “In President Museveni, we see another Nyerere and one day, Ugandans will appreciate your leadership,” he said.
Turning to the ongoing inter-Burundi dialogue, the Presidents reiterated their call to all parties in that country to take part in an all-inclusive dialogue in order to find a durable solution to the crisis in Burundi. Mr. Magufuli commended the efforts being made by President Museveni in his capacity as Mediator as well as former Tanzania leader, Benjamin Mkapa, aimed at resolving the crisis in Burundi.
During the press briefing after the bilateral meeting, President Museveni commended President Magufuli’s fight against corruption in Tanzania.
“President Magufuli is using non-bearaucratic methods, which I really salute. The problem in Uganda is corruption-using bureaucracy. When you suspend corrupt Public Service workers, they use our institutions like Public Service Commission to survive.
Two memoranda of undertsanding were also signed at the press briefing: one between the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation and the Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation and another between the Uganda Police Force and the Tanzania Police Force on security matters.