Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) plan to jointly construct 1,200 kilometres of roads.
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and DRC President Felix Tshisekedi signed the agreement at the first Joint Business Forum held at the Speke Resort Munyonyo in Kampala. The aim of the forum was to promote bilateral trade, investment and connectivity between the two countries.
The project is set to ease the movement of goods and people, bilateral trade and investment between the two countries.
The project includes 24 kilometres Bunagana-Goma road up to Rutshuru in DRC, a 180 kilometres road from Goli in northern Uganda to Beni and 977 kilometres road from Mpondwe border post in western Uganda to Beni in DRC.
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Official trade data cited by Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa during the forum launch showed that DR Congo is one of the key export markets for Uganda. In 2018, Uganda’s total exports to DR Congo stood at $532 million with informal trade exports worth $312 million and formal trade accounted for $221 million.
DR Congo plans to join the East African Community will further open up its trade with member states.
Rwanda closing its border in Uganda brought the need for better road infrastructure between the two countries.
In March, Rwandan authorities had blocked Ugandan cargo from entering their country and also barred their nationals from travelling into Uganda.
The border closure slowed movement of goods as hundreds of trucks, which used the eastern DR Congo town of Goma through Cyanika border post, were re-routed to Bunagana border post. However, the 76 kilometres road between the Bunagana border post in Uganda and Goma is almost impassable and insecure.
According to Uganda’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Uganda exported nearly a $250m worth of goods and services to Rwanda in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018 – only to see exports fall to $174m during the following fiscal year, which included four months of border closures.
Since his coming to office last year, President Tshisekedi has been to Uganda over five times as he works to strengthen bilateral ties.