Kenya, Uganda resolve trade wars, Mumias sugar finds new owner to revive entity

KENYA – Kenya and Uganda recently held talks pertaining to trade of agricultural produces between the two countries, averting the long-standing trade war between the two East African nations.

During the meeting held by Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives Peter Munya and his Ugandan counterpart Frank Tumwebaze, agreed to remove all impediments in the cross-border trade of poultry, eggs, sugar, fish and milk products.

According to reports by Kilimo News, the parties agreed to immediately remove any administrative measures that have hitherto inhibited trade in poultry and poultry products.

The delegation from the two countries also agreed to resolve the circumstances surrounding the recent interception of fish in transit from Kenya to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The two parties agreed to establish a team of key stakeholders that will comprise revenue and fisheries authorities to work out a transit mechanism for fish from Lake Turkana to the DRC through Uganda.

Both countries also agreed to work jointly to address the challenges of harvesting immature fish in Lake Victoria.

Owing to the persistence of domestic levies by both countries that contravene the EAC Customs Union Protocol, the Ministers undertook to remove all levies immediately and, in any case, not later than July 1, 2022.

The trade issue on milk was, however, not resolved and the parties agreed that Kenya needs to carry out a verification mission first in Uganda during the last week of January 2022 in order to lift the embargo on Uganda’s milk and milk products.

On matters pertaining to sugar trade, both countries agreed to continue cooperating together and carry out the activities within the set guidelines, including streamlining the issuance of import permits.

Following the April 2021 Uganda-Kenya bilateral ministerial meeting, Ssali said Uganda’s annual sugar export quota to Kenya was increased from 55,000 tonnes to 90,000 tonnes consisting of both the COMESA Kenya sugar Safeguard and the bilateral quotas.

Uganda’s Sarrai Group wins bid to run Mumias Sugar Company

In other related news, Uganda-based conglomerate Sarrai Group has secured the lease for assets of Mumias Sugar Company and the mandate to revive the collapsed sugar miller.

The sugar miller’s receiver-manager Ponangipalli Rao announced that the Ugandan company emerged as the winner of the bidding process that has lasted over 4 months.

Some of the other firms that had placed bids for Mumias include Pandal Industries, KE International (US) associated with Tumaz Tumaz Enterprises, West Kenya Sugar, Sarrai Group (Uganda), Krumen Finances, New Mumias Sugar/Devki Group, Kibos Sugar and Fredrick Coombes/ Sucriere Des Mascareigmes Ltd.

The 20-year lease, however, excludes assets in the firm’s ethanol and cogen plants, which were seized by Ecobank and French development financier, Proparco.

Rao disclosed that although Sarrai Group is not in sugar production in Kenya, it has a proven track record of running three sugar factories i.e., Kinyara Sugar, Hoima Sugar, and Kiryandongo Sugar, a distillery, and power generation in Uganda.

The company has over 20,000 hectares of its own nucleus estates in Uganda and over 12,000 registered and supported out grower farmers.

Mr Sarbi Singh Rai, the Sarrai Group chairman, said their immediate focus will be to invest in the rehabilitation of Mumias’ machinery back to effective operational as well as engaging out growers to ensure that there is effective collaboration.

“Mumias sugar was the most respected sugar company not only in Kenya but the entire region and it is our firm commitment to all the stakeholders that we shall use all our experience and resources to make sure that we revive the company and take it back to the heights it once enjoyed,” he said.

With a new owner now on board, Rao said the revival of Mumias Sugar Company Limited will enhance the standard of living of the local community and catalyze growth in the area.

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