Uganda will finance projects to construct over 200 kilometers of road in its eastern neighbor –DR Congo, so as to boost trade between the two nations.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the poorest countries in the world, despite possessing unmatched size and wealth of natural resources. Decades of corruption, mismanagement, and conflict have resulted in the country lacking viable transport networks and large parts of the hinterland cut off from main trading centers.
Gen. Katumba Wamala, the Ugandan Works and Transport Minister revealed that the government would contribute up to 20% of the project value while the remaining 80% would be covered by the Congolese government in an envisaged public-private partnership model.
For some analysts, the move maintains Uganda’s influence in a neighboring state which it has invaded in the past and is alleged to be supporting some armed groups fighting in the Eastern region.
Since the first Congo war, Eastern Congo has been cut off from the western part of the country, where the government sits and whose economy is one of the fastest growing in the world. Both Rwanda and Uganda were key players in that war, and in the second Congo war; that in total caused the deaths of at least 5 million people.
“There is always a first time for everything,” Gen. Wamala said. “This is a joint project between the two countries and there is a very good reason for that.”
The entire project will cost Uganda about $25 million, and the road earmarked for development will run from the border to Congo’s town of Beni as well as the road from the border post of Bunagana to the city of Goma.
Uganda has been keen to develop trade ties with Congo, its third largest trading partner after Kenya and Rwanda; since Rwanda closed a busy border crossing in February 2019. Uganda termed the move as a “trade embargo”.