Port of Mombasa’s http://www.gendawacargo.com/ vital role in the transport network of East Africa cannot be over emphasized. It serves a region of over 120 million people and handles transit cargo to South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania.
The vast majority of foodstuffs, raw materials, vehicles, iron, steel and petroleum products that are imported or exported in the region are handled through Mombasa port. Its throughput is growing by as much as 10 per cent each year, so extensive measures have been and are being taken to improve the capacity of the existing infrastructure as well as enhancing transport links to carry the cargo away from the port as quickly as possible.
Transit of cargo through Kenya
Some 30 per cent of cargo handled is transit cargo and this is expected to grow at an faster rate in the coming years as Kenya’s neighbours develop and improve their economic outlook. Over the five years to 2013, transit trade grew at an average rate of 7.1 per cent, with containers forming most of this growth. In 2013 the Port of Mombasa handled just over 6.6 million tonnes of transit cargo, up from 5 million tonnes in 2010.
The transit trade to South Sudan has been growing fast and in 2013 it became the second largest transit country after Uganda. Uganda accounts for about 70 per cent of the transit trade market share. This share is reducing, even though volumes are increasing, because of other growing economies in the region. In 2012 South Sudan had a 12 per cent share, followed by DRC at seven per cent and Rwanda at four per cent.
Kenya is attempting to reclaim much of the lost transit trade to Burundi, although its neighbour, Rwanda, is one of the fastest-growing transit destinations. To reflect this and to better serve its customers, the KPA opened a new liaison office in Kigali, Rwanda, in 2013. There is also a liaison office in Kampala and another office was opened in Bujumbura, Burundi on January 31, 2014.
The Rwanda office will act as a coordination point for the KPA’s activities in the country. Rwanda transit trade has been growing at a rate of nine per cent each year and in 2012 it accounted for 260,000 tonnes.
Transit trade is benefiting from two government measures to improve the flow of cargo from the Port of Mombasa: all cargo clearance activities by various government agencies will now be coordinated by the KPA; and all customs decisions will now be finalised in Mombasa rather than being referred to Nairobi.
Transport of cargo from Mombasa port to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan
Much of the transit trade is currently transported by road; but with construction under way of a new standard gauge railway linking Mombasa with Nairobi and Kampala – and eventually Rwanda and Burundi – transit times will improve significantly.
Closer integration between East African countries in the form of trade agreements and joint co-operation is also helping to strengthen economic links across the region. In recent years Kenya’s neighbours have shown a growing interest in the development of its transport infrastructure; and various leaders have attended opening or ground breaking ceremonies in order to show their support.
Reports indicate that the competitiveness of the region is improving. As transport corridors improve efficiency and bureaucracy is reduced, the costs come down.
Growth of Kenyan Economy
Kenya’s economy is vibrant as a result of widespread investment and development. It is predicted that in five to 10 years the region will be a very different place, with new wealth and a huge increase in trade. The Port of Lamu, under development, will handle a lot of this new trade, especially the predicted oil exports from Uganda and South Sudan. Oil drilling activities in Uganda are increasing and South Sudan needs a more reliable route for its oil exports. All of this will require huge volumes of project cargo. The project to build a new port at Lamu will attract the bulk of this trade, but not for many years until the transport corridor is completed.
However, peace in the region is a major determining factor in economic growth. If peace can be maintained, then most barriers to growth are removed. But the troubles in South Sudan in 2014 may have further implications not yet foreseen