President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, on Monday oversaw the signing of a pact between Kenya and Ethiopia to transform their shared border regions into bridges for development.
The pact signed in the border town of Moyale aims to empower the local communities in order to bridge the isolation gap that has been a barrier to development by fostering peace through prosperity.
Among the programmes that will be implemented by the two governments in conjunction with the United Nations include capacity building projects; creation of alternative livelihoods; cross-border trade aimed at reducing poverty and inequality; improving education and health facilities; creation of more employment opportunities and efficient utilization of natural resources.
Another pillar of the plan of the Cross-Border Integrated Programme for Sustainable Peace and Socio-economic Transformation –Marsabit County and Borana Zone, Ethiopia— which has already started with a funding of Sh20 billion from the United Nations, is to make the region is peace building and conflict management initiatives.
The objective of the plan to transform the region includes increasing opportunities for trade, investment and tourism. It also includes improvement of infrastructure and the facilitation of cross-border movement of people.
President Uhuru Kenyatta underscored the need for cooperation between Kenya and Ethiopia in addressing the needs of the border communities and emphasizing cross-border management of resources.
“We know that our prosperity and security demand cooperation between the two countries. We have learned from the past: we can no longer make policy about our resources without considering our neighbour’s legitimate interests, and doing what we can to accommodate them” he said. “That way, we avoid wastage, while building on each other’s strengths. That is what our brotherhood requires of us.”
Prime Minister Desalegn said Ethiopia attaches importance to cooperation with Kenya and is determined to see the joint efforts succeed.
“The leadership of Kenya has for decades demonstrated its faith in Ethiopia and we are building on that foundation, which was laid down by our forefathers,” he said.
The Prime Minister said Ethiopia will place a lot of emphasis on ensuring the effort to bring development to the border region succeeds to create prosperity for the local community.
PM Desalegn said the ties between Kenya and Ethiopia have strengthened under President Kenyatta’s leadership.“You are a strong leader for the benefit of both our countries,” he said.
On his part President Kenyatta said the friendship between Kenya and Ethiopia is old and strong.
“Our bond is as strong now as it was then. Together we have worked to defend Africa’s cause abroad and at home” said the President. “The project we launch today, therefore, is only the latest instance of cooperation between our two countries. That is why, Ladies and Gentlemen, we are confident that we will succeed”
The UN Resident Coordinator Ms Nardos Bekele-Thomas said the Moyale region will be a pillar for development if the new plans becomes successful.
She said Moyale has the potential to become the future Dubai of the Horn of Africa if the local communities abandon conflicts and embrace development.
The agreement was signed on behalf of the two countries by the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affiars Amina Mohamed and Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom.
Cabinet Secretaries Gen (Rtd) Joseph Nkaissery (Internal Security), Hassan Wario (Sports) and Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua attended the function.
Governor Ukur Yattani said the Marsabit County government will play its role in ensuring the project succeeds. Governors from Isiolo, Mandera, Wajir and Tana River, Senators and MPs attended the function.