Kenya has started construction of a $5.2 billion railway line which when completed will link Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan.
The 1,250-kilometre-long railway will be constructed with funding from China and will initially cover the Mombasa to Nairobi route.
The initial line is expected to be completed by 2017, with further extensions to Uganda, eastern DRC, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan to follow.
The railway line is expected to boost Kenya’s status as a regional economic hub and also promote economic integration of the East African Community (EAC) through the sharing of infrastructure facilities among member states.
In November 2012, East African heads of state met under the theme “deepening the EAC integration process through the development of efficient infrastructure systems to support trade and industrialisation”.
The heads of state of EAC member countries are also due to sign a monetary union agreement in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, on Saturday, paving the way for a single currency.
Two months ago, the foreign affairs ministers of Uganda, South Sudan, Kenya and Rwanda signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for a customs union to open up their borders for trade among member states.
A key rail route which connects northern Uganda to the rest of the country was recently opened after being non-functional for some 20 years. The route will also serve South Sudan, with goods destined for the country being brought to Gulu and then transported by road on to Juba and other parts of the country.