By Halima Athumani
Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan are among several African states to have signed a new deal on cyber security to protect multi-million-dollar oil and transport projects.
Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya signed a memorandum of understanding on cyber security at the 10th Northern Corridor Integration Summit in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, on Saturday.
South Sudanese leader Salva Kiir and Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi were represented by ministers.
The Northern Corridor summit has seen Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan and Rwanda review visa and ID card arrangements plus focus on the construction of a standard gauge railway and an oil pipeline.
Uganda made commercial oil discoveries in 2006 in the Albertine Region in the country’s south west with projected production to start in 2017 or 2018. Kenya has an estimated 10-billion-barrel reserve; South Sudan has just under half this.
The countries’ railway project is expected to ease the transportation of oil from Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan – which are also eyeing oil pipelines.
Uganda has signed an agreement worth $3.32 billion for engineering, procurement and construction contract with China Harbor and Engineering Company for the Northern and Eastern route of the standard gauge railway. Kenya has already progressed with the construction of the Mombasa-Nairobi section of the railway.
Ambassador James Mugume from Uganda said: “This cyber security agreement is going to be very important for this region.
“If you invest money into a railway and oil pipeline and you don’t invest in security to protect it then you are wasting money, because terrorists will come and sabotage it.
“This is why within the Northern Corridor there is a supportive defensive system.”
The heads of states also signed agreements on total liberalization of labor and services and a memorandum of understanding on foreign policy coordination.
“As we integrate and look at various issues and projects, terrorists groups and other criminal elements are also taking advantage of the now-strong use of the internet platforms for communication and moving money,” Mugume added.