South Sudan has accused Kenya of grabbing its land, setting the stage for a boundary row that risks derailing trade between the two nations.
The EAC common market, which consists of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, DR Congo, Tanzania and Uganda, was set up in 2010 to allow the free movement of goods and people across borders and is one of the most advanced trading blocs on the continent.
South Sudan is one of Kenya’s main export markets, importing goods worth Sh17.1 billion last year, according to official data that show trade is tilted in favour of Nairobi.
“South Sudan has quite a number of areas that have been entered into by our neighbouring countries and we have been discussing them in the context of the African Union,” Mr Deng is quoted as having said by local media in South Sudan.
“We have to again reiterate our commitment that there is no piece of land that will be taken from South Sudan.”
Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Alfred Mutua, and the Principal Secretary in the ministry had not responded to calls and SMS enquiries from the Business Daily at the time of going to press.
The border dispute with South Sudan comes at a time Kenya is at loggerheads with Somalia over a maritime border in a part of the Indian Ocean believed to be rich in oil and gas.
Kenya in 2021 rejected the ruling of a top UN court that decided mostly in favour of Somalia in the maritime row.
Somalia, which welcomed the ruling, filed the case in 2014 at the UN’s highest court dealing with disputes between states.
Should the dispute escalate, South Sudan may restrict Kenya from using the Nadapal border, ultimately hurting trade.
The border dispute comes at a time when South Sudan has threatened to transfer business to the Djibouti route, in what could deny Kenya revenue on 1.1 million tonnes of cargo that the Mombasa port handles annually.
Mombasa has been the main route for all consignments destined for the landlocked country and South Sudan now says the Port of Djibouti is shorter.
South Sudan is second after Uganda in the use of the Mombasa port, accounting for 9.9 per cent of transit volumes.
Uganda accounts for the lion’s share of 83.2 percent while the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Rwanda account for 7.2 percent, 3.2 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively.
Kenya has been offering incentives to Juba, including land in Mombasa to build a dry port to ease the cost of doing business between citizens of the two nations.
In September, South Sudan said it acquired three acres of land in Djibouti for the construction of a dry port as it sought to cut reliance on the Port of Mombasa.
By GERALD ANDAE
→ [email protected]