Port ac­tors want more money to up­grade fa­cil­ity

The Star (Kenya) - - News Business - BRIAN OTIENO @Yo­bramos4

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.

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