INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT

Kisumu port will revitalise Lake economy

This port will be a major boost for regional trade as Uganda and Tanzania have already set up offices there

In Summary

• Two years ago, if you told anyone President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga would travel to Kisumu for the launch of the refurbished port, no one would have believed.

• The launch, earlier scheduled for today, marks a major step towards not only re-energising the economy of not only of Kisumu but the entire Western region.

Kisumu Port launch
Kisumu Port launch
Image: STAR ILLUSTRATED

The hare one day ridiculed the short feet and slow pace of the Tortoise, who replied, laughing: “Though you be swift as the wind, I will beat you in a race.”

The Hare, believing her assertion to be simply impossible, assented to the proposal and they agreed that the Fox should choose the course and fix the goal.

The Tortoise never for a moment stopped but went on with a slow but steady pace straight to the end of the course. The Hare, lying down by the wayside, fell fast asleep. At last, waking up and moving as fast as he could, he saw the Tortoise had reached the goal and was comfortably dozing due to fatigue.

Two years ago, if you told anyone President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga would travel to Kisumu for the launch of the refurbished port, no one would have believed.

And so while the country was being treated to unending politics and other sideshows in the last two years, Kisumu was getting a new lease of life.

The launch, earlier scheduled for today, marks a major step towards not only re-energising the economy of not only of Kisumu but the entire Western region. Kisumu is now a major economic hub in the region, especially for the countries that rely on Kenya for imports.

This port will be a major boost for regional trade as Uganda and Tanzania have already set up offices there. This makes it a major game-changer especially with the SGR getting to Naivasha and the refurbishment of the railway line to Western Kenya set to kick off.

Anyone who was keen on the news last week would have noted that the refurbished Kisumu port resumed oil exports to Uganda in December with the first consignment of 22 wagons loaded with 894,000 litres of diesel.

On average, Uganda imports 85 million litres of fuel through Kenya and Tanzania. Kenya’s port of Mombasa handles 92 per cent of these imports with the remainder going through Dar es Salaam.

The majority of the petroleum products, 92 per cent, is imported through the Mombasa port in Kenya, while only eight per cent arrives via Dar es Salaam on the Tanzanian coast. With the enhanced connectivity through Lake Victoria, Kenya is set to benefit further from these Ugandan imports as it will be faster than the Tanzania route.

This means the multi-billion investment in the port, jetty and rail facilities in Kisumu has already started paying-off and will help Kenya’s economy even grow further. Commercial activities at the port have been dormant for more than two decades now and the resumption of bulk exports through Lake Victoria is more than welcome.

The re-launch of the port is expected to create at least 10,000 jobs directly and indirectly, which will be a big boost to the lakeside. During its former vibrant days, Kisumu port connected Kenya to Uganda and Tanzania through Bell, Jinja, Bukoba and Mwanza ports.

The revival of the Kisumu Port is also key to the ongoing implementation of the country’s blue economy blueprint, which is seeking the harness the use of our water bodies for economic development.

The blue economy sector has the potential of creating up to 50,000 new jobs, which would be a great boost for the country. In addition, the sector can contribute more than three times what it has been contributing to the country’s GDP.

The leadership of Western Kenya should take advantage of the port.

This new opportunity created by the port can enhance other sectors of the region’s economy such as tourism and hospitality. Traders with unique goods can also use the port to export them to Tanzania and Uganda.

When the port is launched today, let it mark the beginning of economic prosperity for the people of Kisumu and the Western Kenya region. It should herald a new era of trade between the East Africa Community nations.