What Demonstrations in Kenya Mean for Uganda

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Businesses have come to a standstill in Kenya after the opposition protesters (the Azimio La Umoja protesters) staged demonstrations in Nairobi on March 20, 2023, as they responded to Raila Odinga’s call against President William Ruto’s government, which he claims is illegitimate.

The Kenyan anti-riot police have fired tear gas in order to disperse the protesters and arrested several protesters who were seen burning tires on major streets.

The police had stopped the demonstrations, but Odinga’s supporters remained defiant and staged the protest.

As the African proverb goes, “When elephants fight, the grass suffers.” This literary means that when powerful people go to war, it’s their people who are hurt.  So currently in Kenya, the locals, who never asked for the conflict, are being affected as they have been forced to close businesses, thus registering losses. The same applies for Kenya’s neighbors, of which Uganda is one.

However, we are not yet sure of how long the demonstrations are going to last. So what does this mean for Uganda given that all businesses, including transport, have come to a halt?

It should consequently be noted that Kenya and Uganda have great bilateral relations and are great partners in many areas, including trade, infrastructure, security (military), education, agriculture, and the energy sector.

In 2008, the Kenyan crisis had a direct impact on the economies of landlocked countries like Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi as fuel prices hiked and other essential commodities that Uganda and other countries depend on from Kenya could not be imported.

According to research, close to 100 million people across East Africa depend on Kenya for the supply of fundamental products, from fuel to manufacturing raw materials.

On the other hand, Uganda exports milk and maize to Kenya, and in addition, most of Uganda’s imports and exports channel via Kenya. This literally means that the demonstrations eventually pause trade in Uganda, and if the demonstrations continue or escalate, Uganda’s trade will be disrupted as fuel prices will rise, affecting the populace.

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