Kenya, Ethiopia strike oil deal after missing Uganda one

President Uhuru Kenyatta (right) and Ethiopia PM Hailemariam Desalegn during an address at State House in Nairobi. [Photo/PSCU]

Kenya has promised to strengthen its cooperation with Ethiopia in what is being seen as a change of tact in its bilateral relations with its northern neighbours.

In a bilateral meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn Thursday, the two countries agreed to strengthen the strategic alliance and cooperation between the two countries.

The two leaders witnessed the signing of bilateral agreements including a pact on the oil pipeline that will run from Lamu to Addis Ababa under the LAPSSET project, just months after Kenya and Uganda disagreed on its previous deal that would have paved way for the construction of a pipeline from the coastal town of Lamu to Hoima, Uganda.

Tanzania beat Kenya to the deal with Uganda in what critics say was made possible due to Tanzania’s security and economical soundness.

The pipeline will channel Uganda’s oil from Hoima in the western part of the country to the port of Tanga and into the international market.

The decision though proved a setback for Kenya seems to have been neutralized by the new deal which would ensure oil from Ethiopia is shipped to other markets through Kenya.

President Kenyatta and the Ethiopian PM also celebrated the successes being made on cross-border security through a Joint Borders Administrators Framework, which they set up last year to deal with anti-peace elements along the common borders.

The two countries are also set to sign a pact on closer cooperation in sports that will see a Kenya-Ethiopia Marathon, which on its own is bound to become a world attraction as well as work closely on matters of security and common border.

The bilateral meeting between the two leaders and their delegation was marked by camaraderie with the two Heads of State referring to each other as ‘brother’ with the Ethiopian Prime Minister, who was accompanied by several Cabinet Ministers, saying Kenya was a second home for Ethiopians.

The meeting was attended by Deputy President William Ruto, Cabinet Secretaries and Principal Secretaries.

In a joint press briefing, President Kenyatta said Ethiopia was an invaluable partner for Kenya in issues ranging from the economy to regional peace building.

“Ethiopia continues to be a crucial partner to Kenya whose close cooperation on a wide range of critical issues is deeply valued and spans decades,” said President Kenyatta.

“Under our Joint Border Administrators Framework, we’ve seen a lot of success in improving security along the border that we share.”

On his part, the Ethiopian PM said Ethiopia considers Kenya a strategic partner and a natural friend given the similarities the two countries share.

“Kenya and Ethiopia are the pillars of the region and we have to work together to stabilize the region,” said Mr Desalegn.

He said Ethiopia will always stand ready to support Kenya in all fields and the two countries will become a force to reckon with if they strengthened their ties.

President Kenyatta and Prime Minister Desalegn witnessed the signing of several bilateral agreements between Kenya and Ethiopia including oil and gas, health, sports, cross border cooperation in animal health and sanitary measures and field of education.

PM Desalegn is on a three day State visit to Kenya at the invitation of President Kenyatta.


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Story By Benjamin Wafula
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