Booming business at the Namanga border town between Kenya and Tanziania has been partly attributed to peaceful coexistence among the locals.
This is in sharp contrast to conflict ridden border areas in the East African region where trade and movement of people has been constrained.
“The Maasai from both sides of the Tanzania and Kenya border have been living in peace for generations,” said Mr Keria ole Mandina, a local trader and chairperson of a business and trade association at Namanga, during the launch of a peace caravan across the East African Community (EAC) region.
The harmonious relations have not only boosted cross border trade between the local people but also between Tanzania and Kenya at large.
The caravan, targeting the locals living along the borders of Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan, aims to enhance peaceful co-existence and regional cooperation.
The seven-day exercise has been organized by the African Union (AU) under its ‘Silencing the Guns by 2032’ programme and the EAC secretariat.
Mr ole Mandina urged the communities along the conflict-ridden borders of Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan to learn from best practices at Namanga.
The economy of Namanga has been on the rise in recent years even as the border post has been associated with stranded lorries transporting goods.
The town, midway between Arusha and Nairobi, has benefited from increased transportation business of both countries and lately as a stopover for the tourists.
The pile up of lorries transporting goods was minimal on Sunday as the peace caravan was launched at the shared One Stop Border Post (OSBP).
With increased traffic of traded goods, business stakeholders have proposed construction of a market for women and youth traders and small entrepreneurs.
Speaking during the event, Mr Frederic Gateretse-Ngoga, a senior advisor at AU Border Program, said smooth trade was not possible in disputed boundaries.
“You can’t trade if you don’t know where your boundaries are or where there is no cross-border cooperation,” he pointed out.
The peace caravan has also been launched within the framework of the African Continental Free Trade (AfCFTA) agreement that aims to spur trade and investments in the continent.
Kenya Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi said boundaries between the EAC partner states should be turned into bridges for cooperation rather than barriers.
Well-connected and conflict-free boundaries, he explained, would boost cross border trade and enhance integration of the bloc.
“In this manner, borders should make significant contributions to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through investment, pastoralism value chains and informal cross border trade,” Mr Mudavadi added.
Uganda State Minister for EAC Affairs James Magode Ikuya attributed some border disputes among nations to the existence of transboundary resources.
He implored the EAC states to put in place workable mechanisms that can lead to amicable sharing of such resources amongst themselves.
Source: The East African