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Kenya’s ban of Ugandan milk points to flaws in soft diplomacy

By Musinguzi Blanshe
Posted on Tuesday, 30 March 2021 17:41

An employe restocks the dairy products section at a supermarket in Nairobi, Kenya 8 May 2017. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

At the end of 2019, Kenya refused entry of milk from Uganda — its largest trading partner in the region. More than a year later, this 'dairy war' remains unresolved. What is behind Nairobi's firm resolve to keep Kampala out?

As per the East African Community (EAC) common market protocol, so long as Ugandan products are produced in the country, they are permitted to enter the Kenyan market without any hindrance.

In 2018, Ugandan milk exports totalled $131m. 74% of that ($96m) was exported to Kenya, according to data from United Nations Comtrade.

In 2019, Uganda’s exported dairy products were worth $135.9m, according to Ugandan government statistics. That figure is triple what the country earned in 2015 ($45m). Milk production also increased to 2.7 billion litres in 2019 from 2.08 billion litres in 2015.