In Dar es Salaam
President Museveni arrives in Dar es Salaam on Thursday evening where he is expected to attend the much-anticipated Uganda-Tanzania Business Forum.
Museveni will join his Tanzanian counterpart John Pombe Magufuli to interact with the private sector from both countries on boosting cross border trade.
The Business Summit is slated for Friday at Nyerere International Conventional Centre in Dar es Salaam.
The Joint Permanent Commission (JPC) is underway with top government officials from both sides brainstorming on removal of non-tariff trade barriers such as high charges on milk products from Uganda; boosting transport on lake Victoria through joint procurement of water vessels; strengthening Defence cooperation to address crime; One Area Network to bring down the cost of telecommunication and internet connectivity.
Regarding internet, at present all Internet Service Providers in Uganda are accessing the submarine cables through the port of Mombasa.
This is a challenge as it creates a single route for access to the submarine cables for Uganda and the countries that get internet from Uganda such as South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. Therefore if there was any damage to the fibre between Mombasa and Uganda, the whole country would not have internet including her neighbors.
Uganda’s national internet backbone is connected to Mutukula at the border with Tanzania.
Uganda has since completed connecting the NBI with the Tanzanian fibre backbone so as to get to the sub marine cables at Dar-es-Salaam.
ChimpReports understands National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA-U) has on a number of occasions engaged the Ministry of ICT in Tanzania to use the Tanzania Backbone to transit internet traffic from the sub marine cables to Uganda.
However, according to Ugandan officials, the costs presented by the Tanzanian Ministry of ICT were excessively high in comparison to similar costs across the region.
Experts say these high costs imposed by Tanzania prohibit Uganda from using Tanzania as an alternative route to the submarine cables at Dar-es- Salaam and therefore creates a risk of internet unavailability to Uganda and South Sudan whenever there is a problem in Kenya.
During today’s discussions, Uganda hopes to persuade Tanzania to lower these costs hence boosting Internet connectivity and securing a fall back position in case sea cables are damaged in Mombasa.
Opening the third session of today’s JPC, Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Ministry Permanent Secretary Amb Patrick Mugoya expressed optimism about the discussions.
According to Uganda Bureau of Statistics, the volume of trade between Uganda is approximately $355m as at 17 May 2019.
“We believe that this can be enhanced, if we address all non-trade facilitating measures with the view to ensuring that the administrative procedures and practices are objective and transparent; and are not burdensome or a restriction to the supply and flow of goods and services,” said Mugoya at the JPC meeting held at Tanzania Ports Authority in Dar es Salaam.
Dr. Faraji Kasidi Mnyepe, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation of Tanzania led his country’s delegation.
He said Tanzania remained open to deepening bilateral relations with Uganda especially in areas of trade, security and infrastructural development.
Mugoya said Uganda’s bilateral relations are historical and fraternal, informed in part by the solidarity in the struggle for freedom, Justice and liberty from a turbulent past.
“Tanzania has stood side by side with Uganda when it mattered the most. We therefore do not take our relations for granted,” said Mugoya.
The remarks came against the backdrop of intense negotiations between representatives from both countries.
Mugoya said the bilateral relations should be moved to a higher level beyond where it is now, riding on the good will of Presidents Museveni and Magufuli.
“In doing so, we envision a relationship where our two countries build on the peace and stability in our region for prosperity; a relationship of inclusive and shared prosperity; one where we encourage regional value chains feeding numerous streams of commerce; a relationship where members of the private sector in our two respective countries meet regularly in Joint Business Fora or Business Councils intended to share experiences, and seek common solutions; a relationship where we have co-created corridors of success aimed at structurally transforming our economies through industrialization; a relationship where there is seamless flow of trade between our two countries; and Indeed a relationship where the overriding goal is the development of two countries and their peoples,” he said.
He said the Joint Business Forum which will take place immediately after the JPC is a “good platform for the private sector to interact with each other, with the view to identifying opportunities; sharing experiences; identifying challenges and agreeing on an appropriate way forward.”
The PS said the forum enables the private sector to provide government with feedback on what is working and what needs improvement.
“Our leaders are keen to listen to the members of the private sector because these are indeed the drivers of our economies,” said Mugoya.