Ugandan Government plans to spend 200 billion shillings ($53.6 million) on three roads in mineral-rich eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, following a pact to improve business between the two neighbors.
The Finance Ministry submitted the funding proposal to parliament, Kenneth Mugambe, the ministry’s budget director, said Tuesday, without giving details on how the money would be raised.
Uganda’s cabinet last month approved the plan to build the roads, which total 223 kilometers (139 miles). Many roads in eastern Congo are in a state of disrepair following a series of armed conflicts in recent years. Trade with Congo accounted for $162 million in 2019, according to Bloomberg data.
The Ugandan Government has through the Minister for Works and Transport (MoWT), Gen Katumba Wamala, explained why Shs243.7 billion ($65.9m) will be injected into the construction of the 223km road into Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo).
The explanation follows a revelation made by the government spokesperson, Mr Ofwono Opodno, who on Tuesday last week said the Ugandan Government would construct a 223km road in neighbouring DR Congo.
The road to be constructed consists of the Kasindi section at the border to Beni (80km) plus the integration of the Beni-Butembo stretch (54km).
It also consists of the Bunagana to Rutsuru-Goma Road (89km).
The Works minister defended Uganda’s decision to support and contribute to the $334.3 milion (Shs1.2 trillion) project saying the move will, among others, better transport and polish relations between the two countries.
“We are contributing to this to ensure that there is an enabling and improved environment for trade between the two countries besides bettering transport,” Gen Katumba told journalists during a press briefing.
Gen Katumba said theUgandan Government earns about $532 million (1.9 trillion) from trade transactions with the DR Congo annually and this is likely to double if the transport network is improved.
“Currently, Uganda earns about $532 million from trade with DR Congo, and if we do that (work on the roads], it [trade earnings) will double and we shall be able to earn more,” Gen Katumba said.
Currently, Uganda exports a number of goods to the DR Congo. These include plastics, clothing and food-stuffs produced by domestic industries.
The minister also revealed that this is part of the other projects that the Ugandan Government intends to undertake with regional states to improve on connectivity and linkage with its neighboring countries through road transport.
“Of course, we would love to link all the other countries. For example there is even another project which is supposed to link us (Uganda) through Sudan to Ethiopia. That is another project which will soon mature possibly, all other things remaining even,” Gen Katumba said.
The minister also revealed that money to finance the project will be sourced through a supplementary budget whose requisition was submitted to Parliament and is yet to be approved.
“The Ministry of Finance is going to get a supplementary for this activity and the DRC will be in-charge (of the construction project),” Gen Katumba said.
In November 2019, President Museveni and Mr Felix Tshisekedi, the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) met at State House in Entebbe to discuss, among others, trade, security and how to improve the bilateral relations between the two countries. The two presidents also agreed to improve road transport between their countries.
The roads to be constructed into the side of Congo are through the areas of Rutshuru, Goma, Butembo, Bunia and Beni, which are said to be key towns on the upper end of Congo.