Kenya-Ethiopia Banking on Lapsset to Promote Trade

Lapsset is Eastern Africa’s largest and ambitious infrastructure project that brings together Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan, and seeks to connect Nairobi to Addis Ababa. In Summary • This emerged at a panel discussion at the University of Nairobi, during the commemoration of 55 years of Kenya-Ethiopia relations. • There are 200 Kenyan investors in Ethiopia, majorly in manufacturing. The poor trade and economic ties between Kenya and Ethiopia have been blamed on internal politics and poor development record in the neighboring areas. This emerged at a panel discussion at the University of Nairobi, during the commemoration of 55 years of Kenya-Ethiopia relations. UoN lecturer at the Institute for Development Studies Prof Karuti Kanyinga said the poor development in southern Ethiopia and in northern Kenya had done little to promote cross border trade.

“The lessons we draw from this is that politics matters in development and we must be sensitive to it. What is needed to enhance these ties I inclusive politics and political commitment to development policies,” Kanyinga said. But the two countries are banking on the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport Corridor project, and the current reformative administration of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to promote trade and economic relations. “If you look at Kenya’s development in the last 50 years, major investments are a few kilometers from the railway line. So Lapsset can play a major role if it is connected to other parts of the country for the purposes of promoting trade and development in those areas. It should not be that Lapsset is an end to itself,” Kanyingi said. He also noted that governors should be sensitized on the opportunities Lapsset offers to the counties. Lapsset is Eastern Africa’s largest and ambitious infrastructure project that brings together Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan, and seeks to connect Nairobi to Addis Ababa. Lapsset director general and CEO Silvester Kasuku, however, said the corridor is already connected to various other highways and roads, connecting major towns and economic hubs, up to Awassa, Addis Ababa. Although the Lapsset project was conceptualized in 1972, the leaders of the respective countries commissioned the project in 2012. The project consists of seven key infrastructure projects, which include a 32 Berth port in Lamu, interregional highways from Lamu to Isiolo, Isiolo to Juba, Isiolo to Addis Ababa and Lamu to Garsen, crude oil pipeline from Lamu to Isiolo, Isiolo to Juba and product oil pipeline from Lamu to Isiolo, Isiolo to Addis Ababa.

There is also interregional SGR lines from Lamu to Isiolo, Isiolo to Juba, Isiolo to Addis Ababa, and Nairobi to Isiolo; three international airports in Lamu, Isiolo, and Lake Turkana and three resort cities in Lamu, Isiolo and Lake Turkana. In addition, there is an intended multipurpose high grand falls dam along the Tana River. Anteneh Alemu, Ethiopian Investment Commission Deputy Commissioner, said there are diverse opportunities in Addis Ababa, as the country opens up to foreign investors. “ There are already 200 Kenyan investors in Ethiopia, majorly in manufacturing,” he said. He further noted there is potential in the financial/banking, telecommunication, agro-processing, textile and horticulture sectors. Equity Bank and KCB are among Kenyan financial institutions that are due to pen in Ethiopia under the new political dispensation Former envoy to Ethiopia and later Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Ambassador Boaz Mbaya noted that when security issues in the subregion are addressed, then development in the region will be boosted. [www.waltainfo.com]