Mombasa, Nairobi, Kampala and Kigali have little in common; in as far as the peoples and cultures have come to be known, and business has come to be done, these cities are hardly bedfellows. They are, however, not strangers in bed.
There has been an upsurge in interactions within Eastern Africa, with citizens flowing regularly and freely within the region.
All it takes is a regional pass, a crucial sheet of paper that goes – in Kenya – for about $4.
For businessmen, this has greatly eased the process that is chasing business opportunities in Eastern Africa.
Mobile Money, further, is now perhaps the region’s most frequent flying tourist.
A foray into Kampala’s Nakawa Market awakens one to the explosion of MTN and Airtel money points; occasionally, a lucky traveling Kenyan will also stumble upon Safaricom’s M-Pesa.
Venture into Kampala City’s inner core, and the availability of Kenyan money points further grows.
It gets even better.
This past month has been wrought with regional developments, spearheaded during a first Heads of State Infrastructure Summit in Entebbe.
There would seem to be concerted efforts to make doing business and travel even easier in 2014.
To further snip at the red tape’s bud, Rwandan and Ugandan revenue authority officials will be stationed at the Mombasa port, whose birth is set to be complimented with a new berth to ease congestion at the port.
Compounded with statements of purpose to procure a new standard gauge railway, these developments will certainly go a long way towards building commune and commerce in Eastern Africa – when they are fully docked into the region’s infrastructure.
It however remains to be seen if the rest of the region’s states will join the fray. During a second installment of talks last week – at a Summit in Mombasa – landlocked Bujumbura and Juba were also in attendance.
Conspicuously absent was Dodoma.
South Sudan is a recent applicant of the East African Community, and it is worth pointing out that of the EAC’s 5 – potentially 6 members – the only absent party in Mombasa was Tanzania. Arusha, a city in Northern Tanzanian, is the EAC’s headquarters.
Tanzania also happens to be one of the two member states with a port.