By Samuel Ouma
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and visiting Head of State of Tanzania Samia Suluhu on Tuesday held bilateral talks in the State House, Nairobi.
During the meeting, the two Presidents agreed to do away with barriers hindering the smooth flow of trade and people between the two countries.
A joint team of experts will be set up to address the disjointed enforcement of cross-border Covid-19 containment protocols, one of the most pronounced non-tariff trade barrier between the two nations, said Kenyatta.
“Just as His Excellency the President has said, we have agreed that our Health Ministers need to sit down and come up with a structured system of testing our people at the border points to allow easy movement of our people so as to do their businesses,” President Suluhu said during a joint press briefing in the State House.
The two leaders said Kenya and Tanzania need to develop modalities for mutual recognition of COVID-19 test results, noting that the lack of harmonized protocols has hampered the free flow of goods and people.
Kenyatta said Kenya and Tanzania share a common culture, language, heritage and ancestry, assuring President Suluhu of the Kenyan government unwavering support.
At the same time, Kenyatta and Suluhu also agreed to reenergize their Joint Commission for Cooperation (JCC) to deal with trade issues. Ministers from the two countries were directed to regularly meet to sort out minor problems affecting people as they interact and do business.
“They (JCC) need to ensure that investors coming from either Tanzania or Kenya do not face hurdles by ensuring a structured system is put in place to help us build our countries for the mutual benefit of our people,” President Kenyatta reiterated.
The duo also entered into a ksh100 billion (approximately $931.5 million) deal that will see Tanzania construct a gas pipeline from Dar es Salaam to Mombasa.
The 600 km pipeline will get to Mombasa through the port city of Tanga, ferrying natural gas from Songo Songo Island and Mnazi Bay gas fields in Southern Tanzania. Once constructed, the project is will reduce the cost of energy in Kenya.
According to President Suluhu, Kenya is Tanzania's top investor in the East African Community and fifth on the continent. She cited 513 projects between Kenya and Tanzania which have created more than 50,000 jobs for Tanzanians.
In the deal, the two nations also had a Memorandum Of Understanding on animal health and sanitary measures, culture, the arts, social integration and national heritage.
Suluhu is on a two-day state visit in Kenya, and on Wednesday, she is expected to address a joint parliamentary meeting.