Kagame probably never heard the phrase ”when one door closes, another opens.”

That is what Uganda experienced when Kagame closed their common border.

By David Himbara

Alexander Graham Bell famously said that ”when one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni put it differently when reacting to the border closure by his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame. ”Even if the border is closed, trade will go on.”

Kagame border closure evidently opened doors for Uganda elsewhere— in the Middle East. Uganda’s receipts from trade with Rwanda dropped by a whopping 81% between February and March 2019. In money terms, Uganda export earnings from Rwandan trade dropped to Shs9.8b (US$2.6 million) in March from Shs54b (US$14 million) in February 2019. But Uganda’s export revenue from Middle East rose sharply to Shs990b (US$262 million) from Shs290b (US$77 million) in February 2019. In other words, Uganda lost US$11.4 million in Rwanda but gained US$185 million in the Middle East.

General Paul, if you thought closing a border would harm Uganda, you were wrong. On the contrary, the border closure propelled Uganda to find its largest market in the Middle East. Kagame, free Rwandans. Open the border.