USAID/EA, together with the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), supported a “High Level Workshop on the Northern Corridor Spatial Development Program” in Kampala on February 28, 2008. The workshop was spearheaded by the Transit Transport Co-ordination Authority (TTCA) of the Northern Corridor. Participants included the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Uganda, the Permanent Secretary of Transport, Kenya, the Director of Works and Transport, Kenya as well as high level representatives of COMESA, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the Inter-Government Standing Committee on Shipping, NEPAD, EAC, African Development Bank, East African Development Bank, PTA Bank, and the Port Management Association of Eastern and Southern Africa.
The Northern Corridor TTCA has been mandated by its council of ministers to lead a process to transform the Northern Corridor into an “economic development corridor”. This meeting was held to obtain consensus among high level stakeholders that there is a significant regional economic development opportunity that could be realized if the existing Northern Transport Corridor were transformed into a development corridor. Members of the Regional Spatial Development from South Africa shared results of a desk study on the proposed development corridor and shared lessons learned from the Economic corridor that links Gauteng, South Africa with Maputo, Mozambique. Other experts gave overviews of key sectors and locations for economic development that could link into the corridor.
The envisaged Northern Corridor Economic Zone covers parts of Kenya, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda and Sudan. The corridor would follow the current Northern Corridor route starting in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa, going through Nairobi and into Uganda. There it would split into two legs, the first running through Kampala and into Rwanda, Burundi and DRC, the second running to Gulu and then splitting again going into north-eastern DRC and to the southern Sudanese city of Juba.
USAID/EA support to TTCA started in 1994 with funding of a Transport Corridor Analysis Study in East Africa, a study which still contributes to the East African transport agenda. USAID programs have contributed to the development of the corridor through:
- the East and Central Africa Competitiveness Hub activities;
- One-Stop border post in Malaba;
- development of SafeTStops along the route;
- RATES work in ‘Maize without Borders’;
- Customs and Harmonization activities;
- Customs Bond Guarantee Scheme and;
- Transit Facilitation Investments
The recent post-election crisis in Kenya has underscored the importance of the Northern Corridor to the region. The rising cost of fuel, the decrease in trade, and the increase in prices demonstrate the dependence countries in the region have on each other. The latest reports show that the cost of transporting goods along the Northern Corridor has increased by 25% in the last two months. In a region where the cost of moving goods is already among the highest in the world, these increases will damage any prospect for further development. In order to increase competiveness and build the East African economy, a strong transport artery in this region is essential.