East African countries, Kenya and Tanzania, have signed a gas pipeline deal that is to run between the coastal cities of Mombasa in Kenya and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. The ceremony took place on Tuesday, 4th May 2021, in the city’s capital, Nairobi, during the first official visit of the Tanzanian president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, to Kenya.
The closed-door meeting lasted for over three hours. Speaking to reporters afterwards, Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, said both countries are willing to improve their relations, as the signed gas pipeline deal will improve the lives of people, support businesses, reduce the cost of electric power, and help Kenya in its course towards environment-friendly energy.
Samia said she and Kenyatta also agreed to reduce barriers to bilateral trade, to grow businesses and investment between the two countries. Both countries also agreed that their health official should work together on COVID-19 related issues.
The relationship between both countries was sour during the tenure of the late President Magufuli of Kenya. Magufuli died of heart disease in March and was replaced by the current President of Tanzania who was then the vice president. The erstwhile Tanzanian president also refuted reports of COVID-19 in the country and doubted the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Commenting on the new development, Kigen Morumbasi, a lecturer of International Relations at Strathmore University in Kenya, said: “When we look at the two countries, we are looking at prospects in terms of bilateral trade. So, we are supposed to see bilateral trade going up and free movement of people, which of course have an issue, especially in the region. And if we look at the trade between Tanzania and Kenya, we know both of them are port countries. The closer ties between the two countries will elevate the economic development for both countries, as well, and remove the competition that has been dogging the two countries in the past.”