What type of feud will prevent neighbors from engaging in trade, especially when one has the demanded goods in excess?
If Africans and the African Union Commission (AUC) didn’t take the rift between Uganda and Kenya seriously in the past, perhaps now is the time to do so!
Uganda and Kenya are known to be off-and-on when it comes to relationships between the two countries. But knowing the importance of intra-trade, free trade and regional integration in the African continent, the recent actions by the Ugandan government to block trade between the neighbors is ca cause for alarm.
Uganda has blocked a request to export excess sugar cane from out-growers in Busoga region to Kenya.
Farmers in Uganda have expressed concerns and revealed that they have an overproduction of over 500,000 tons of sugar-cane that processors are unable to currently absorb; calling on their government to allow them to carry out exports to neighboring Kenya which is demanding for the product.
But the Minister for Trade, Industry, and Co-operatives, Ms. Amelia Kyambadde has said that there is no need for alarm and that the farmers should manage the situation until the government increases production capacity in the country, which she says is currently at 70%.
In justifying the decision before parliament, Ms. Kyambadde said that sugar factories in Uganda have been producing below capacity since 2010 and that opening up the market to neighboring countries like Kenya would worsen this problem.
Speaking on whether it is wrong for the farmers to export the surplus they already have pending when the processing capacity in Uganda is increased.
The minister told parliament that opening the border to neighboring factories would also compromise President Yoweri Museveni's directive that is intended to stop the exportation of raw materials.
The concern remains centered on whether the directive from President Yoweri Museveni restricting the exportation of raw materials is justifiable.
Out-growers in the eastern region say they have requested for permission to export 54,000 tonnes of sugarcane to Kenya over a trial period of three months, but the government has refused.
Interestingly, at the moment, Ugandan sugar can't be sold in Rwanda. A dispute between Kampala and Kigali escalated to a trade blockade in February.
As a result, Ugandan products including cooking oils, sugar, household items, and cement cannot legally be sold in Rwanda.
Are these trade disputes and restrictions in the continent justifiable?
Header Image Credit: mg.co.za