The governments of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have inaugurated the first of three roads that will connect their two countries.

The ceremony took place last week, in the presence of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Felix Tshisekedi, President of the DRC.

Tshisekedi commented: “I thank President Museveni for this initiative because it responds to the idea of ​​the integration of our countries. As brothers, instead of trying to build walls, it is better to build bridges. “

The roads, which were approved by the Ugandan cabinet in October last year, are expected to cost around $ 330 million. Each government will contribute 20% of the cost, and the rest will be collected by Dott Services, a Kampala-based infrastructure developer and contractor.

In total, the roads will be 223 km long.

The first will take place between the border town of Mpondwe in Uganda, where the ceremony was held, 80 km northwest of Beni in the DRC.

The second will be entirely in the DRC, and will extend for 89 km between Bunagana on the Ugandan border and the port of Goma on the north shore of Lake Kivu. A

The third will extend the Beni road 54 km to the south to the important commercial center of Butemboa, which has around 600,000 inhabitants.

The three projects were the subject of an intergovernmental agreement signed in Entebbe, Uganda, on May 27.

The leaders said in their statement that they expected the roads to bring a “huge” change to trade relations between the two countries and accelerate their socio-economic development. The DRC is Uganda’s fourth largest trading partner behind the United Arab Emirates, South Sudan and Kenya.

It could also improve control over the security forces of countries in the region, parts of which are occupied by armed groups such as the Allied Democratic Forces, which have been active in both countries.

East Africa The newspaper said the roads are expected to double trade volumes between the two countries. In 2018, Uganda’s exports to the DRC amounted to $ 532 million, mostly made up of agricultural products. Its imports consisted mainly of minerals and fuel.

Image: President Museveni (right) and his DRC counterpart Felix Tshisekedi at the road inauguration ceremony at Mpondwe (Uganda State House)

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