Germany donates vehicles, survey equipment for demarcation of Rwanda-Uganda border

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The German embassy in Kampala has donated vehicles and survey equipment to the Ugandan government in order for it to demarcate its 169km-long border with Rwanda following decades of bloody land disputes between their borderline communities.

The equipment was handed over to the Ugandan minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Daudi Migereko in Kampala on November 25 by German ambassador Klaus Dieter Duxmann. It comprised three 4 wheel-drive vehicles, two GPS (Global Positioning System) receivers and high-resolution satellite images. The combined system uses the GPS devices to work out the exact coordinates of border beacons and combines with ground surveying activities and the satellite imaging system to create accurate maps of the border area.

The programme falls under the auspices of the African Union Border Programme which runs under the motto ‘‘From Barriers to Bridges’ and is supported financially, technically and materially by the Foreign Office of the German government.

Through the programme, the African Union seeks to settle a litany of continent-wide border disputes, some of which have led to wars such as the bloody Ethiopia-Eritrea war over the Badme triangle which is still simmering to date despite continuous engagement by the AU and the United Nations in attempts to settle it. In his remarks at the handover ceremony, Duxmann said his government wants to help the two countries settle border disputes in line with the AU programme.
“Today we take an important step to enable Uganda to implement the African Union Border programme by demarcating its border with Rwanda neighbour which, by the way, receives similar support from Germany,” he said. Speaking on behalf of the Ugandan government, Migereko said accurate demarcation of the border will allow both countries to share border-lands and natural resources in harmony.
“We have taken time to carry out the mapping f our borders in respect of the AU recommendation in 2002. With this boost, we shall immediately begin work. The demarcation of our borders will ease the problems we faced with our neighbours. As a country we stand to benefit because Uganda is gifted with a lot of natural resources. If the borders are clearly mapped out, negotiations to share the resources will become easy. The mapping will also allow enable us to conduct geological and mineral surveys,” he said.

Another critical component of programme involves the deployment of expert teams to conduct information and peace sensitisation programmes among border communities in both countries. Duxmann said German assistance has so far helped the AU complete the demarcation of 34 per cent of the African terrestrial border disputes it aims to settle. Some of the projects include the delimitation and demarcation of Mali-Burkina Faso, Senegal-Mali, Mozambique-Tanzania and Zambia-Tanzania borders.

Through its Border Programme which began in 2007, the AU encourages all African states with outstanding border disputes to delimit and demarcate their boundaries by the end of 2010 but the programme failed to meet the deadline, mainly due to lack of technical support, funding and failed arbitration attempts to settle running border disputes between many African countries.