Kenya's Main Port Gets Dutch Grant To Hasten Cargo Transfer

By MarEx 2013-10-31 16:59:00

Kenya's Mombasa port, east Africa's biggest trade gateway, has received a $27.5 million grant from the Netherlands to repair berths and improve facilities in a move to ease transfers and boost regional trade.

Kenya wants to retain its status as regional trading hub and has recently signed agreements with Uganda and Rwanda to cut red tape and hasten the movement of goods between Mombasa and its hinterland. Lilianne Ploumen, the Dutch minister for foreign trade and development cooperation, said the grant was part of a bigger plan to invest in infrastructure to boost trade in Africa. "Seven out of the ten fastest growing economies in the next 10 years are in Africa. We need to bring together the perspectives of aid and trade in order for this growth to be inclusive," Ploumen said.

The grant is designed to cut the dwell time - the number of days a container stays in the port - from the current average of six to one or two. The port also wants to reduce vessel turnaround time from 72 hours to less than 24. A container should arrive in Kampala within five days of arriving at Mombasa, in line with an agreement between Kenya and Uganda. The port, which handles about 75 percent of the region's trade, has been criticised by countries neighbouring Kenya for delaying cargo transfers.

The port is also fighting competition from Dar es Salaam in neighbouring Tanzania, an alternative trading route for fuel and consumer goods destined for Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia and exports of tea and coffee from the region.

In August, Kenya launched a new and bigger berth 19 at Mombasa which can handle larger vessels and better deal with growing trade volumes. The port is also building a $300 million second container terminal to boost cargo handling capacity. (Writing by James Macharia; Editing by David Cowell)

By Joseph Akwiri (C) Reuters 2013.