Port actors want more money to upgrade facility
African countries should invest more in infrastructure development to take advantage of the increased business opportunities.
Huge reserves of natural gas, oil and mineral deposits have been discovered, regional port stakeholders have said.
The discovery has provided an opportunity for African countries to generate wealth, they said yesterday during the 16th Intermodal Africa Conference in Mombasa.
Transport CS James Macharia said investment focus is gradually shifting to Africa owing to this new discovery and the saturation of business opportunities in Europe and America.
Kenya is among the countries that have initiated plans to build a modern oil handling facility occasioned by the discovery of gas and oil in Turkana, and potential Lamu.
Speaking during the opening of the conference, Kenya Ports Authority managing director Catherine Mturi-Wairi said the planned construction of the facility will have the capacity to handle up to four vessels of up to 100,000 dead weight tonnes, with a Liquid Petroleum Gas line.
“Ports in Africa need to increase their investment in infrastructure development to facilitate trade and cope with growing customer demands,” Mturi said.
Macharia said Kenya is among countries trying to address the inefficiencies that dog most African countries’ ports, including capacity constraints, underdeveloped skills, security, gender inequity and financial inadequacies.
Others, he said, include environmental concerns, unstable political systems, technological setbacks and weak economic and political institutions.
“There is therefore a need to put together great minds and share views and perspectives on how these challenges facing the continent and the unexploited opportunities can be managed,” he said, in a speech read on his behalf by his special advisor Philip Charo.
The CS said African countries must improve their intermodal transport systems so as to promote the manufacturing sector, strengthen the export promotion councils, and open up special economic zones for value addition processes for export markets.
Recent world trade figures, he noted, indicate that Africa’s share in global trade participation was only 3 per cent at the end of last year and that the continent has as little as a 2.5 per cent share in world exports.
“Going in this direction is the only way to reduce the trade imbalance that exists,” said Macharia.
At 1.216 billion people, Africa houses 16.36 per cent of the world population, according to the latest UN survey, providing a significant market.
However, Macharia noted, this remains largely uncoordinated and untapped due to lack of an efficient and integrated transport network.