Mombasa. Uganda and the entire East Africa Community are net importers, meaning they import more goods than they export.
This, according to Kenya Ports Authority, is not good considering the consequences on the regional economies.
According to statistics, the total imports (goods ferried into Uganda) stand at a staggering 97 per cent.
The port of Mombasa only handles seven per cent of Uganda’s total export, something the port authority wants to be dealt with.
This was disclosed by Kenya Ports Authority managing director Gichiri Ndua during the opening of a media workshop held in Mombasa last week.
He said: “As a region, we import more than we export and that is not good for our economies. We are concerned about this and we believe that this should be changed. In other words the regional countries need to do more to raise their exports.”
Slightly more than 85 per cent of total regional cargos handled by the regional biggest port, including the one destined to South Sudan are imports outside the EAC region, particularly from Asian and some Gulf countries.
In a recent event at Lugogo in Kampala, Uganda Manufacturers Association chairman Amos Nzeyi said government should consider subsidising the cost of electricity if Uganda is to be competitive and export more of its products.
Like Mr Nzeyi, Mr Gideon Badagawa, the executive director of Private Sector Foundation Uganda, said development of infrastructure like an efficient railwaysystem, such as the standard gauge railway which is underway, will enhance export as it will reduce the cost of transport which is currently road and also happens to be the most expensive mode of transport.
Meanwhile, it is worth noting that port of Mombasa continues to grow and expand.
Between January and September 2015, the port handled nearly 20 million tonnes of cargo, against 18.05 million tonnes in the corresponding period of 2014, reflecting a notable increase of 1.82 million tonnes or 10.1 per cent.
Imports realised a total of 17 million tonnes of cargo in the nine months period against 15 million tonnes handled in a similar period in 2014, posting an appreciable increase of 1.7 million tonnes or 11 per cent.
Exports registered a total of 2.7 million tonnes of cargo during the period under review compared to 2.5 million tonnes recorded in the corresponding period in 2014, an increase of 149,000 tonnes or 5.8 per cent
KPA 2014 results also show the port had a special year.
For the first time in the port’s history, it handled a total of 24.9 million tonnes and more than one million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units.
This performance reinforced Mombasa Port’s position in the league of global players.
It is also a clear indication of market confidence in the prevailing business environment underscored by improved regional integration.
Regarding transit traffic, it witnessed a growth rate of 7.3 per cent registering 7.2 million tonnes in 2014 up from 6.7 million tonnes handled in 2013.
Uganda, remains the biggest transit market as it continues to increase its usage of the port. In 2014, Uganda cargo grew by 12.4 per cent registering 5.5 million tonnes in 2014 up from 4.9 million tonnes in 2013.
Mombasa to become ‘green port’ leader
Despite challenges of handling more imports into the region, which the port has no control over, the environment issue is also at the heart of the Mombasa port authority.
In a presentation, the port authority said it wants to become a Green Port Leader in the region in the next 10 years, and a world leader in 20 years.
This, the authority intends to do, through investing in new technology and educating the community in improving environment. This will be done alongside developing the Port into a world class dock—harbour. Mombasa is one of the top five container ports in Africa.
Worth noting is that Mombasa is the gateway to Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, Northern Tanzania, Eastern DRC and Ethiopia. It provides connectivity to more than 80 sea ports worldwide. More than one million Twenty Foot Equivalent Unit—containers (TEUs) were handled in 2014.
Latest traffic forecast indicate that the container traffic will rise from 1.1 million TEUs handled in 2014 to 3 million by 2015 and beyond, against current capacity of 1.1 million estimated in 2013/14; the port has to do more to cope.