Kenya in standoff over Uganda sugar imports

by Trust Matsilele 0

Kenya in standoff over Uganda sugar imports

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga had a standoff over an alleged deal signed by the government to import sugar from Uganda during the 9th Pan African Parliament Conference for the East Africa Community.

Political analysts claim the alleged deal will harm the ruling party’s chances of retaining power in the forthcoming 2017 elections.

(READ MORE: The bleak future of Kenya’s sugar industry)

“The politicians are making it a more political issue when we should be looking at it as an economic issue,” Steve Biko, Director at Hidalgo Group told CNBC Africa.

“The [politicians] had an opportunity to streamline few issues and for me it is irrelevant where sugar is coming from either South Africa or Brazil.”

Biko urged the government to help skill Kenyan farmers with new technologies.

“We are using redundant old technologies which are very expense and this is affecting farmers as they go through more expenses to harvest sugar in Kenya,” he said.

“We need to look at our issues so as to help address the country’s sugar industry. We cannot give farmers one billion shillings ($9.8 million) and ignore challenges farmers are facing.”

Biko dismissed the prospect of Uganda exporting sugar to Kenya.

“The interesting thing is that Uganda does not have capacity to export to us; they are also importing sugar into their country,” he added.

Uhuru defended the deal saying this was promoting regional trade.

“Where do you want to get our shortfall from? I would rather get it from Uganda rather than getting it from Brazil,” said Kenyatta.

“Uganda imports about 700 million US dollars worth of products from Kenya and we only import about 150 million US dollars worth of products.”