By David Himbara
In 2018, Rwanda’s external trade was US$3.4 billion of which US$996 million was the value of exports and US$2.4 billion, imports. Much of this trade passes through Uganda to the Mombasa Seaport, Kenya, onto overseas markets. Put in another way, the Northern Corridor which connects Rwanda to the Kenyan seaport of Mombasa through Uganda is vital to Rwanda’s international trade.
On February 27, 2019, General Paul Kagame sealed off the border to the Northern Corridor.
On March 9, 2019, Kagame cited repairs to the highway for his decision to close the border. And then, on March 25, 2019, Kagame said that the border closure was due to politics. In his own words, ”the problem is not the road or the road being constructed. The problem is politics.”
Why the border closure is a sign of possible madness
All major Rwandan principal exports, namely, tea, coffee, and minerals pass through Uganda to the port of Mombasa, Kenya, with Rwandan tea trading at the Mombasa Tea Auction before being exported. Meanwhile, within the East African Community (EAC) the Partner States, 77.5% of Rwandan imports originate from Uganda and Kenya. The question, therefore, is: would a sane leader close such a border that is literally the lifeline of a poor nation? Nope. This is a case whereby enormous power in the hands of a single totalitarian ruler leads to cruelty, delusion, and yes — madness.