October 28, 2013 (KIGALI) - Foreign affairs ministers from Uganda, South Sudan, Kenya and Rwanda have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) which is expected to boost business among partner states.
“The borders of Uganda, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan are no more to their respective citizens. The Berlin conference has been economically edited”, Rwanda’s foreign affairs minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, tweeted on Monday.
The Berlin conference took place in the German city of Berlin from 1884-85 during which European powers divided Africa among themselves and demarcated the boundary of their territories.
The signing of the MoU by the foreign affairs minister, witnessed by their respective presidents, took place on Monday in Kigali, Rwanda and marked the launch of the single customs territory.
The customs territory will facilitate the easy movement of goods and services from the Kenya port of Mombasa to Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan.
The leaders also agreed to the waiving of visa fees within their territories.
“I declare that those with Rwandan passports and the whole of East Africa will no longer need visas to travel to South Sudan”, Rwanda’s office of the presidency quoted South Sudanese president Salva Kiir as saying at the summit in Kigali.
The foreign affairs ministers met a day ahead of their presidents who were attending the third infrastructure summit in Kigali on Monday.
Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta and host Paul Kagame were among the heads of state in attendance at the event.
The summit was called to review implementation of what the leaders had agreed on during a previous meeting held by the leaders on 28 August in Kenya.
The member states also called for Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan to carry out further consultations for a joint oil pipeline project.
Uganda and Kenya have both recently discovered commercially viable oil, while South Sudan is already an oil producer.
Missing at the summit was Tanzania, which analysts say has been dragging its feet when it comes to fast tracking the economic and political integration of the East African community.
South Sudan is not yet a member of the community but discussions on the country’s admission will begin on 7 November.