Extend SGR to Congo border

In Summary

• Congo is about to join the EAC and its admission will swell the single market to over 300 million people

• Transport links between Congo and East Africa are still worse than they there were in the colonial period

Wagons are hauled by the SGR cargo train.
Wagons are hauled by the SGR cargo train.
Image: FILE

The Democratic Republic of Congo has become a member of the East African Community. This is a very good thing although it will not be popular with some people.

The addition of 90 million Congolese will raise the total population of the EAC to over 300 million. This large single market will be attractive to investors and beneficial to Kenyan manufacturers.

Congo still has to ratify the EAC invitation but Congo should soon be joined with Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

To some extent, this only formalises an existing reality: arguably, eastern Congo has closer trade links with Uganda and Rwanda than with the west of the country.

Truck drivers have already welcomed the prospect of minimal border control but to get the maximum benefit of Congo's joining the EAC, transport links need to be massively improved. In the colonial period, the Ugandan railway linked by boat and road to Kisangani and Juba.

It is now time to find the funding to extend the SGR railway past Kampala to Lake Albert and beyond. With an efficient railway system, a giant dynamic single market would become a reality.

Quote of the day: “My life had lost its relish when liberty was gone.”

Olaudah Equiano
The Nigerian former slave and author died on March 31, 1797

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