Kenya, Ethiopia border point to boost trade ties


President Uhuru Kenyatta (centre) with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed open the Moyale One-Stop Border Post on December 9, 2020. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG

Kenya and Ethiopia have signalled an intent to deepen integration with a new border crossing after years of struggling to conduct robust bilateral trade under a regime of poor infrastructure.

Officials see the Moyale One-Stop Border Posts an important signal to start implementing several key trading agreements reached between the two countries but which had largely been untouched.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed were in Moyale, a town that straddles the border between the two countries where they opened the One-Stop Border Post (OSBP) built with funding from the African Development Bank and the UK government.

The Moyale OSBP construction was completed in 2018 for more than Sh800 million but has remained underutilised. It is the only gazetted point of entry along more than the 800-kilometre border with Ethiopia to the north.

Also launched was the 500km Hawassa-Hagere-Mariam–Moyale road.

The new border crossing consolidates clearances for travellers, and transporters, under one roof so that they do not have to undergo two processes for approval.

There has been subdued bilateral trade between the two countries as a result of non-tariff barriers such as long bureaucratic procedures, bans and sanctions. But the two leaders yesterday agreed to strengthen the strategic alliance that has existed for years, and continue to cooperate on economic ties even as both sides focus on advancing security in the region.

They exuded confidence on the benefits of increased investment and employment, market expansion and reduction in the cost of transporting goods and people from the joint Kenya-Ethiopia efforts.

Dr Abiy said the two governments need to work together and open up new overland transportation routes and reduce the bureaucratic barriers to moving goods and services.

“The true success of these projects will be measured by how effectively we collaborate within and across our institutions. It will also be measured by how much we have been able to seamlessly boost trade volumes between Kenya and Ethiopia,” he said.

President Kenyatta said the necessary political will and intergovernmental coordination to drive interconnectivity between the two states should be accelerated.

The President asked the business community in the two countries to take advantage of the infrastructure being developed to enhance trade and investment.