Africa's Northern Corridor Project

By Sonia Mfasoni, East Africa Director, The Corporate Council on Africa

Two years ago, in 2013, Kenyan President Kenyatta, Rwandan President Kagame, South Sudanese President Kiir, and Ugandan President Museveni met to discuss the ways in which to collaborate to accelerate development in the region; and the Northern Corridor Integration Projects (NCIP) was conceived. The goal at the time was to resolve three main issues: the time it took to transport goods from the Port of Mombasa to the other landlocked states; the development of infrastructure along the corridor; and reducing the cost of business in the region. Each country created a special office to coordinate the Initiative, and the presidents committed to meeting every 60 days to assess the progress made and make decisions to speed up the growth of trade and integration.

 In two years, the heads of state have made tremendous strides towards their goals, the NCIP has given way to the construction of a new Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Mombasa to Kampala, Kigali and Juba; the construction of one common crude oil pipeline to serve the new oil discoveries in the region; the simplification of the labor and immigration laws and procedures, and cooperation on tourism, trade and services issues. Other achievements include: one network area; the use of National/Student ID cards as travel documents; the implementation of East Africa Tourist Visa –thus marketing the region as a single tourism destination; the waiver of work permit fees; reduced airfares on Entebbe-Nairobi Route and implementation of 5th Freedom Rights on the same route; Single Customs Territory which allows for a cargo tracking system, reduced cost of doing business, reduced days of cargo trucks from Mombasa (4-5 days from Mombasa to Kampala from 16 days, Rwanda- 8 days from 22 days).

 As the presidents continue to tackle the policy aspects of this initiative, they have also began to encourage local and international private sector to be involved. The Northern Corridor Integration Projects Summit, which takes place every two months, started including private sector observers, which demonstrates the presidents’ commitment to having more businesses take advantage of the different opportunities through this initiative.

The Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), whose members represent 85 percent of total American private sector investment in Africa, convenes the U.S.-Africa Business Summit every two years. The next CCA Summit, which takes place on the margins of the African Union Head of State meeting in Ethiopia, February 1-4, 2016, will feature a plenary with the heads of state from Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Uganda to discuss their progress on the Northern Corridor initiative and to promote opportunities for private sector attendees to take advantage of. The Summit, which has attracted more than 2,000 delegates in the past, has established itself as the premiere meeting that addresses the commercial ties between the U.S. and the nations of Africa.

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