President William hosted his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni at State House Nairobi on May 16, 2024. [PCS]

Kenya and Uganda will jointly "explore" extension of the oil pipeline from Eldoret to Kampala, President William Ruto has announced.

Similarly, the two countries plan to have the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) extended from Naivasha to Uganda's capital, Kampala and subsequently to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ruto made the announcement on Thursday at State House, Nairobi, where he hosted Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, for a State visit to Kenya.

The two leaders also signed several memoranda of understanding. "The tripartite agreement on importation and transit of refined petroleum products through Kenya to Uganda, whose signing we have just witnessed, enables the Uganda National Oil Company Limited to import refined product commodities directly from producers in different jurisdictions, this bringing to an end the challenges faced by the sector in Uganda," said Ruto.

In recent months, Kenya and Uganda have clashed over oil importation, which caused Kampala to seek alternative routes, such as Tanzania.

Last November, Kenya declined Uganda's request to use its pipeline amid fears that it would displace local oil marketing companies, a row that was resolved two months ago. 

The two Heads of State also tasked respective ministers to mobilise resources for SGR extension and submit a report by end of the year.

They committed to enhancing trade between the two countries and urged Africa to adopt a united approach for meaningful development.

"We have agreed on... making sure that trade between our two countries is unimpeded either by tariff and non-tariff barriers or levies that are arbitrarily levied," Ruto said.

He said his meeting with President Museveni had resolved outstanding issues that have strained relations between the two neighbouring countries such as trade involving "rice, juice, eggs and sugar."

The Ugandan President regretted that trade barriers had stifled growth in Africa and prevented access to high-quality products. "All that (the agreements) is guided by the historical missions, which Africans have finally crystallised. More than 60 years ago, when we got our independence, we did not harmonise properly on the historical mission beyond liberation," he said.

Museveni emphasized the importance of united prosperity that would set up a "reliable big market" and strategic security, which he said is only achievable with political integration.

"For the East African Community, our ultimate target is one authority, one government," he said.

Ruto concurred with the Ugandan President and vouched for partnerships to address issues across sectors such as security and conservation.

He said they were concerned about the drawdown of African Union forces in Somalia, warning that such a move must be alive to realities on the ground, even as he praised Uganda as a solid partner in the region.

"President Museveni's visit underscores the enduring bonds of friendship and partnership for peace and development between Kenya and Uganda," said Ruto.