Tanzania and Kenya have signed a deal that paves way for the construction of a gas pipeline from Dar es Salaam to Mombasa, with leaders of the two countries saying it is part of a long-term project to share energy resources.
At a joint press conference in Nairobi, Tanzania's President Samia Suluhu Hassan and Kenya's Uhuru Kenyatta revealed that they had agreed to build more interconnecting infrastructure, starting with the gas pipeline and roads.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation in Natural Gas Transportation means the countries' Energy Ministers can start negotiating the design, cost and other logistical needs for the pipeline to be erected.
A joint communique said it will enhance 'Energy Sufficiency' with Kenya keen on importing gas from Tanzania's nascent plant. No timelines were given but President Samia said respective technocrats have been directed to start working on it immediately.
"That is a long-term project ... we are thankful that today we have signed an agreement ... what remains is implementation," the Tanzanian President said.
"We have agreed on the need to ease the transportation of key energy resources and have reached one such understanding on the transportation of gas. What we need to do now is start implementing the project."
President Kenyatta said the two countries must build their close cultural and historic ties to ensure the people benefit from interactions.
"We are connected by a common culture: we have a common language and heritage. We do not take Tanzania just as a neighbourly country. We consider it a brotherly country. We have agreed to work on the main highway between Malindi through Lungalunga to Bagamoyo," President Kenyatta said.
"We also agree that we will work on resumption of transportation services on Lake Victoria, which were useful in the movement of people and goods from Jinja to Kisumu, and to Mwanza and Bukoba," he added.
President Samia, who is in Kenya for a two-day State visit, on the other hand, underscored the need to improve trade relations between the two countries.
She noted that Tanzanian and Kenyan Health Ministers will craft a framework for speedy COVID-19 checks at the borders to avoid crossing delays.
Samia went on, adding that Kenya is Tanzania's top investor in the East African Community, and fifth on the continent. She cited 513 projects worth $1.7 billion which have created 51,000 jobs for Tanzanians.
In her address, Samia said Tanzania will boost the volume of trade in Kenya as well as look at more investment opportunities in manufacturing, tourism, agriculture and fishing among others.
Host President Kenyatta said Kenya and the Jubilee government will be at the forefront in working with President Samia to ensure East Africa unity and neighbourliness continues to grow.
"We are not only neighbours geographically, but have other elements in common such as culture, language and shared heritage," Kenyatta said.
He cited the need to re-energise the Joint Commission of Cooperation, which both leaders say will play a crucial role in strengthening bilateral ties. The two said Ministers would meet regularly to boost relations and solve regional challenges that hurt business.
Kenyatta also added that there is a need to improve communication and transport through air, water, road and railway, citing the construction of the Malindi-Lunga Lunga-Bagamoyo road.
President Kenyatta further pressed on the need for the safety of citizens and the countries' leadership in the fight against terrorism.
In their fight to boost relations between the two countries, Samia invited Uhuru to Tanzania for the December Independence Day when the country will celebrate 60 years of Independence.
President Samia was invited by President Uhuru to Kenya in April in a move to strengthen social and economic relations between the two countries.
On April 10, Kenyatta sent Sports CS Amina Mohamed to Tanzania to formally deliver Kenya's invitation to President Samia.