South Sudan has moved closer to its target of gaining access to a pipeline to export its oil to the south. The presidents of Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda have agreed to build two pipelines across East Africa. One would run from South Sudan to the Kenyan port city of Lamu and the other would stretch from Rwanda to Mombasa. Currently, South Sudan exports its oil through Sudan and supplies are often disrupted as the two countries disagree over pricing and security issues. The three-way agreement between the presidents was confirmed by Uganda's foreign minister, Sam Kutesa.
Last week, Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir threatened again to stop oil flows across its border with South Sudan, unless South Sudan stops supporting rebels operating across the shared frontier. South Sudan denies supporting rebels and, in turn, accuses Khartoum of backing insurgents on its soil.
When South Sudan became independent nearly two years ago, it took 75% of the oil reserves of Sudan. However, Sudan retained the pipeline infrastructure, as well as the refineries and export terminal at Port Sudan on the Red Sea.
East Africa is experiencing an energy boom at the moment, after oil and gas discoveries in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Mr Kutesa said the three countries had also agreed to build a railway line from Kenya through Uganda to Rwanda. "It was agreed to revamp the existing railway network and also construct a standard gauge railway line in Kenya and Uganda and also extend it to Rwanda," he said.
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