Since 2015 Uganda and Kenya trade relations have been dominated by the ‘sugar politics'. Kenya has persistently suffered a deficit whereby its local sugar production could not meet the demand. Uganda was cleared to export an average of 9,000 metric tonnes of sugar to the Kenyan market.
However, around late 2016 Kenya blocked Uganda's sugar exports to the Kenyan market accusing it of exploiting regional trade agreements. Kenya claimed that Uganda was simply importing sugar from Brazil and Egypt which is repackaged before being exported to Kenya. Note: Kenya produces more sugar than Uganda but because of poverty, Ugandans consume less sugar than Kenya thus supply in Uganda exceeds local demand. In many Africa governments, affordability of sugar by individual households is a key barometer of an ordinary person's wellbeing. At the height of the sugar price crisis, a kilo of Sugar in Kenya rose from Ksh. 200 (7,000 Ug shs) to Ksh. 350 (13,000 UG Sh.) and in Uganda it rose from 5,000 to 7,000. This disparity boosted smuggling across the Kenya-Uganda border.
For the last two years now, Uganda has repeatedly and vehemently denied the allegations of sugar repackaging and exporting to Kenya. In July 2017 Museveni ordered leaders of sugar producing districts not to grant any new licences to new sugar factories unless there is sufficient supply of sugarcane. He had earlier decreed that for any new sugar factory to be established anywhere it must be at least 50kms away from an already existing one. This directive was contested by out growers, prompting a bitter row with district leaders. They argued that the directive is unfair as it favours well to do sugar producers and not the ones trying to come in. Museveni is all out to protect the three traditional sugar producers who have sustained his 31 years’ stay in power. He warned that police would step in "to protect the territorial integrity of sugar factories" if his directive is not heeded.
Last week the proprietor of the newly established Atiak Sugar Factory, Amina Hersi Moghe accused the three leading sugar factories of illegal importation of sugar for resale in order to meet the demands. Her revelation corroborates the earlier argument by Kenya that Uganda was repackaging and exporting sugar imported from Brazil and Egypt. The Somali by origin, recently got a 64M shillings bail out from Museveni before he described her as "a gift from God to the people of Amuru".
Coupled by her high level political, economic and social connections, the assertion is very credible. On the eve of the Kenya general elections, Raila Odinga told NBS Television that Uganda was exporting to Kenya the sugar it smuggles into the country through Somalia. Given the Museveni regime's historical reputation of involvement in plundering and illicit trade wherever it has military expeditions, Odinga's assertion could be true. The Old Airport at Entebbe, which is exclusively used by the army, has in the past played a significant role in aiding smuggling. We have heard of commanders selling arms, ammunitions, food and fuel supplies, training for Al-Shabaab etc. and why not smuggling?
INFORMATION IS POWER AND DEFIANCE IS THE WAY TO GO!
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