President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Wednesday arrived at Moyale in Marsabit County for the opening of the One-Stop Border Post.
Mr Abiy inspected a guard of honour mounted by the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) after which he toured the facility along with his host Mr Kenyatta.
The one-stop border post, along the border between Ethiopia and Kenya in Moyale area, was built alongside the 502-kilometre Hawassa-Moyale road project in Ethiopia, which is part of a larger plan for a Mombasa-Nairobi-Addis Ababa road corridor.
Mr Abiy said the inauguration of the post is a clear demonstration of the commitment to enhanced trade by both countries.
“By aligning the working days and hours, procedures and formalities as well as through the development and sharing of common facilities and joint controls, the border post will reduce the time taken and costs incurred to clear good across both borders,” he said.
“Bringing under one roof essential trade services of both countries, revenue and customs authorities, immigration, security, trade plus many other services demonstrates the capacity for enabling economic transformation,” PM Abiy added.
Border conflicts, Lapsset
Mr Abiy’s tour is a significant one, with the visit expected to focus on the shared border between the two countries and the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (Lapsset) corridor.
It was hoped that the border post would be commissioned last year after construction was completed in 2018 at a cost of over Sh800 million, but due to tensions at the border, this was pushed.
The perennial conflicts in the area is one of the significant talking points that the two leaders are expected to focus on in their meetings.
The Ethiopia-Kenya border stretches for over 830 kilometres, making the official border point in Moyale a significant input in the boost of trade between the two countries.
After the visit to the border post, President Kenyatta and Prime Minister Ahmed will visit Lamu County to inspect ongoing construction of the new Lamu Port, an anchor project of the Lapsset infrastructural undertaking.
Launched in 2012, Lapsset will also include an oil pipeline that would run from the Kenyan port of Lamu to Addis Ababa, among other major infrastructure projects aimed at improving connectivity and boosting bilateral trade in the region.
Kenya and Ethiopia signed an agreement for preferential access aimed at fostering economic co-operation in 2012, emphasising on trade, investment, infrastructure, food security and sustainable livelihoods.
The two countries also established the Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) tasked with driving bilateral ties, in addition to more than 30 agreements and MoUs spanning nearly all economic, social and political spheres including security, defence and trade, movement of people, transport, and culture.
Last year’s entry of Equity Bank into the Ethiopian market, four years after KCB became the first Kenyan bank to open a representative office in Addis Ababa, is also seen as a huge boost for Kenyans eyeing the huge market.