- The Rwandan Government has re-opened the Gatuna Border to allow movement of goods and people.
- The border was shut down in 2019 after Rwanda accused Uganda of harassing its nationals and inciting dissidence within its territory.
- Uganda lost millions of dollars during the 3-year-long border closure as it could not export its goods to Rwanda.
It appears the 3-year-long diplomatic impasse between Rwanda and Uganda is finally coming to an end. The Rwandan Government confirmed the re-opening of its border with Uganda after three years of closure.
“The Gatuna Border is open. Currently trucks, Rwandan citizens, returning residents, are crossing to Rwanda,” said Yolanda Makolo, a Rwanda government spoksperson.
The Rwandan Government had shut down the Gatuna Border in 2019, citing harassments of its nationals by Ugandan officials. Kigali had also accused the Ugandan Government of instigating dissidence within Rwanda and encouraging those allegedly trying to usurp power from President Paul Kagame.
Business Insider Africa understands that the border closure took a serious economic toll on Uganda. Up until the border closure, Uganda was exporting much of its goods to its neighbour and earning as much as $200 million per annum. However, following the border closure, Uganda’s exports to Rwanda dropped to a paltry $2 million as of 2020.
The re-opening of the border will now allow trade to resume between the neighbours. However, this does not mean that the diplomatic row between them has automatically come to an end.
“It does not mean that cases of beatings, torture and deportations of Rwandan nationals are over. It does not mean that the people, based in Uganda, who want to destabilise Rwanda have stopped. We hope it is a good move towards stopping all that,” said Alain Mukuralinda, another Rwandan Government spokesperson.
In the meantime, Uganda is pleased that the border is finally open. Commenting on the development, Uganda’s minister for foreign affairs, Okello Oryem, told Reuters: “We are very pleased that it (border) is finally open … so that the people in both countries can trade with each other.”
Recall that Business Insider Africa reported last week that Uganda is aiming to boost its exports in order to earn more revenue instead of relying on foreign loans. And there is no better place to start boosting trade than with its neighbours.