East African Community Heads of State on Thursday identified and endorsed key multi-billion shillings infrastructure projects to be built in the five member countries.
President Kibaki, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, Jakaya Kikwete (Tanzania) Pierre Nkuranziza (Burundi) and Rwanda Prime Minister Pierre Habumurenyi listed energy, roads, airports, railway and ports projects to be built to speed up regional integration and socio-economic development.
Attending the second EAC Heads of State Summit retreat on infrastructure and financing at Kenyatta International Conference Centre, the leaders said rail lines in member states are to be rehabilitated and some new ones built.
Also to be developed or rehabilitated are ports in the region, roads linking the EAC countries and South Sudan, hydro power and gas plants, power transmission lines, oil and gas pipelines and refineries.
EAC is to develop a 10-year Investment Strategy and Plan for the priority projects and report on the implementation status every two years.
The countries are to embrace strong infrastructure partnerships with neighbouring states for development of regional infrastructure, exploitation and interconnection of power and energy resources.
“Infrastructure is an enabler that facilitates all other development objectives and that is why a large proportion of resources will continually be invested in this sector. Enhancement of transport efficiency results in reduction of transportation costs and the faster movement of goods and people,” President Kibaki said.
President Kibaki said increased power reduction and interconnected power grids facilitate industrial development.
He said the government has completed port dredging at the port of Mombasa at a cost of Sh5.5 billion.
President Museveni said a railway line to be built from Tororo to Gulu should be extended to Juba in South Sudan and the Kasese-Kisingani one be linked to Democratic Republic of Congo.
He said his government will construct a 600 MW Karuma hydropower project. President Museveni regretted that Lake Victoria is under threat from silting and water hyacinth.
He said the oil discovered in Uganda will earn the country US$ 5 billion annually and speed its transformation to a middle income country.
President Nkurunziza called for maintenance of infrastructure built in the region, while President Kikwete asked EAC countries to give “serious” focus to infrastructure development.
President Kikwete called for upgrading and standardisation of railway lines in the region. He said he would leave power when his term expires in 2015 and “become a senior citizen.”
A European Union representative called for transparency in procurement of infrastructure projects.
The leaders will attend the 4th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State, which will see President Kibaki handing over the chairmanship of EAC to President Museveni on Friday.