Government of Uganda has moved to reenergise its bilateral ties with Ethiopia though partnerships in a number of sectors.
The two countries yesterday penned a Memorandum of Understanding that will set in motion partnerships in the sectors of Energy, Health, Transport, and establishment of Capital City Cooperation.
President Yoweri Museveni, who is Ethiopia on a three day state visit, witnessed the signing together with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
Kampala Capital City Authority Executive Director Mrs. Jennifer Musisi signed for the City Cooperation, with the Addis Ababa mayor; while Junior Minister Stephen Chebrot, signed for transport with Workneh Gebeyehu his Ethiopian counterpart.
President Museveni, who is accompanied by his wife Janet Museveni, said that the relationship between Uganda and Ethiopia was both historical and geographical adding that there are ancient linkages between the people of the two countries.
In his submission, President Museveni suggested construction of a railway line that connects Ethiopia to Uganda via South Sudan.
The President emphasized the necessity for such cooperation by the 2 countries in infrastructure development saying that the prevailing link today was Ethiopian Airlines which should be used to boost trade.
Uganda is currently undertaking construction of a USD 8 Billion Standard gauge railway linking her to the rest of the regional partners in the East African Community, a project that has been marred with remarkable corruption allegation and legal battles.
A railway link between Uganda and Ethiopia, Museveni said would go a long way in promoting not only the country’s bilateral trade but also tourism.
“The tourism sector needs to be strengthened in the region. This will lead to a lot of progress among all the countries in the region. Uganda and Ethiopia are gold mines for tourism. The Eastern African Region is endowed with snow-capped mountains and other historical sites that have the potential to attract tourists,’ he said.
President Museveni noted that once the issue of the railway link is solved, there will be a lot of progress in the region.
He observed that in the short run, Ethiopia and Uganda should identify items that can be traded and ferried by air, suggesting that the other items could be ferried by sea through Djibouti on to Kenyan Port of Mombasa.
Museveni also said that the African Continent has a potential to generate 360,000 megawatts of electricity and that Ethiopia alone has the largest predicted capacity in electricity generation. He extended an invitation to Ethiopian enterprises to come and invest in the leather sector in Uganda.
On his part, the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Mr. Hailemariam Desalegn warmly welcomed President Museveni to Ethiopia and noted that Mr. Museveni’s visit further strengthened the relationship between the two countries.
He noted, “Our 2 countries have had brotherly relations and we belong to the Nile Basin and Great Rift Valley,” he observed.
He revealed that Ethiopia appreciates Uganda’s role in the sharing of the River Nile water resources. Mr. Desalegn went on that infrastructure has hampered development strategies in the region but expressed strong optimism that the completion of the hydro power station construction in Ethiopia would go a long way in serving the region adding that Uganda would be among the beneficiaries.
Prime Minister Desalegn further said that most of the countries in the region have suffered from instability. He noted that this challenge can only be solved if the region continues cooperating. He said that Ethiopia has been equally been affected by terrorism. He strongly condemned the latest attack on the Hahale AMISOM Force Base in Mogadishu by the terrorist Al Shabaab group.
He saluted President Museveni for his role towards bringing peace in South Sudan. He stressed the need to cooperate by all particularly through the regional body the Inter-Government Authority on Development (IGAD) to ensure sustainable peace in South Sudan.