Kenya’s High Commissioner to Ghana, His Excellency Eliphas Mugendi Barine has touted developments in the port sector of Kenya which are yielding significant results in the Eastern Central sub region of Africa and gradually positioning the country as a hub for intra continental trade.
Speaking on Eye on Port on the subject “Promoting Trade beyond Individual Borders of African Countries”, Mr. Barine revealed that the Mombasa Port infrastructure has been significantly augmented for the purpose of making it a transit and transhipment hub serving the Eastern and Central African Sub region.
“The Mombasa port serves a wide hinterland and it is doing well. There’s a lot of investment that is going into it for the last ten years, including dredging to have capability to receive ships that have huge tonnage,” he disclosed.
He also revealed that standard gauge railways have been constructed that link Kenya’s port to the capital of Nairobi, and subsequently to the neighbouring country of Uganda, and works are ongoing to connect through to South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi.
This intervention he said, has significantly facilitated trade in the country as well as transit destinations in the area.
“Now, if you have cargo destined beyond Mombasa, you don’t need to come to Mombasa Port. We put everything on rail and transport inland. Since the standard gauge rail, it takes 4 hours for a distance of about 500km,” he revealed.
The Kenyan High Commissioner to Ghana, also touted customs’ interventions made by Kenyan authorities which have reduced bureaucracies in the port space in Mombasa and transit borders.
“Now, if we have goods going to the other countries, you clear your goods and make your payment in Mombasa port, and you have officers from countries sitting at the port of Mombasa doing their business there so you don’t have to go through all the further processes. All you need is a very elaborate tracking system,” he explained.
His Excellency Eliphas Mugendi Barine said while many trade facilitation interventions in Kenya have caused a few job losses, it has made doing business more efficient, reduced human congestion at the port environment, drastically reduced road accidents and opened up new avenues of employment.
“The real challenge however is with the people who have invested in trucking system. The railway has taken some of the business. It is faster and also cheaper to move goods by rail. For example, if it costed 1000 dollars from Mombasa to Nairobi by truck, by rail it costs 500 dollars,” he said.
He continued to say that, it is in this vein, Kenyan authorities are redirecting its training programs to build up enough local capacity to suit emerging trends in industry like ship building and repair, rail management, etc.
Mr. Eliphas Barine, also disclosed Kenya’s desire to seek partnership for the development of a vibrant cruise industry that would feed into making Mombasa a tourism hub.
He revealed that Kenya is also reviving its shipping line sector so it can complement infrastructure developments made at port of Mombasa in Kenya.
The Kenyan High Commissioner to Ghana encouraged increased supply of investment into African airlines such as Kenyan Airways so as to serve intra-African trade.
“It is an area that the African continent needs to look into- Whether we need an airline in every country or we can plug in to build big airlines that would be competitive and be able to serve the continent better,” he said.