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‘We Shouldn’t Share Our Poverty’: Will Ruto’s Visit Improve TZ-Kenya Relations?

Samia wants Tanzania to share prosperity with Kenya. Ruto wants the Dar es Salaam-Mombasa natural gas pipeline project expedited.

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Dar es Salaam. President Samia Suluhu Hassan on Monday urged her Kenyan counterpart William Ruto that Tanzania and its East African neighbour should not share the poverty of their two respective countries, stressing the need for improving development cooperation.

Ruto, who was sworn in as the fifth President of Kenya on September 13, 2022, was in Tanzania for a two-day official visit where he was received by his host President Samia at Dar es Salaam’s State House.

Addressing journalists shortly after her closed-door discussions with her guest, President Samia said it was important that Tanzania and Kenya remove all barriers that prevent the two from trading smoothly for the benefit of their respective populations.

The Tanzanian leader said that it was against that background that she and Mr Ruto directed their respective cabinet to work on 14 remaining non-tariff barriers that hinder trade between Kenya and Tanzania so that the trade balance between the two nations can be improved.

According to President Samia, there were around 68 barriers that she and former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta had identified but so far only 54 of them have been removed.

“We have tasked our respective trade and investment ministers to work on the remaining barriers so that we can have more freedom now of trading with one another,” said Samia.

“When Tanzania benefits, Kenya benefits,” she added. “Let us not share our poverty but prosperity. This can only be realized if we can trade more between ourselves.”

On his part, President Ruto said the importance of increased cooperation between the two neighbours cannot be overemphasized given the tangibles results the relationship is currently bringing to the citizens of Tanzania and Kenya.

“Many used to think that trade between Kenya and Tanzania only benefitted the former. But that’s no longer the case now,” the Kenyan leader told the press conference. “Now, we in Kenya buy more from Tanzania than what Tanzania buys from Kenya. This is thanks to the lifting of the previously-existed trade barriers.”

READ MORE: What Lessons Can Tanzania Draw From Kenyan Elections?

According to Mr Ruto, thanks to the efforts taken to boost trade between Tanzania and Kenya, the former sold the latter goods worth Sh965 billion from just the Sh521 billion it used to sell in the past.

Kenya, on its hand, sold Tanzania goods worth Sh868 billion from just Sh598 billion it used to sell its neighbour before the non-tariff barriers were lifted.

While the relation between Tanzania and Kenya has continued to improve comparing with the past. The visit comes amidst report of over 600 trucks being stranded in the Namanga border with traders citing slow clearance and unresolved custom issues between Tanzania and Kenya as the main issue.

READ MORE: Tanzania, Kenya Beef Up Security at Loliondo Border

Mr Ruto also spoke of the need to fast-track the implementation of the Dar es Salaam-Mombasa natural gas pipeline project.

The pipeline is expected to transport natural gas from Tanzania’s natural gas fields in Mnazi Bay, Mtwara Region to Dar es Salaam.

President Ruto said Kenya is ready to expedite the project, adding: “So that we can use the resources we have in our region to lower energy tariffs for industries, commercial purposes and domestic.”

Over the project, President Samia said: “We have already signed an MOU with Uhuru [Kenyatta, former President of Kenya] but Ruto has taken this as his first project to implement with Tanzania.”

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