The port of Mombasa, Kenya, has experienced remarkable growth in container cargo throughput, registering a 12% annual increase compared to the previous year.
The surge is attributed to delays at regional ports, particularly Dar es Salaam, leading to an influx of vessels opting for Mombasa.
This development offers insights for exporters and importers in East Africa to make informed decisions amid the changing dynamics of regional maritime trade.
- Container Throughput Growth:
- Mombasa Port recorded a historic high of 1,593,451 TEUs as of December 27, 2023, projecting a year-end figure of 1.6 million containers.
- The highest number of containerized cargos was handled in the last three months of the year, with October, November, and December witnessing 131,717, 147,755, and 164,730 containers, respectively.
- Berth Reallocation:
- Due to the increased influx of ships, the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) designated Berth 5, originally handling conventional cargo, to accommodate containerized cargo.
- KPA Managing Director Capt William Ruto emphasized that this move aims to complement, not compete with, Dar es Salaam, which is facing delays.
- Reasons for Diversion to Mombasa:
- Inefficiencies and delays at other regional ports, especially Dar es Salaam, prompted shippers to divert cargo to Mombasa.
- Shippers from the region are opting for Mombasa during challenging times due to its perceived efficiency in handling cargo.
- Industry Concerns:
- The Shippers Council of East Africa (SCEA) expressed concerns about potential delays at the port of Mombasa and urged KPA to implement contingency plans for efficient service delivery.
- Industry experts emphasized the need to maintain efficiency at Mombasa amid increased vessel traffic.
- Strategic Plans by KPA:
- Capt Ruto outlined plans to address potential challenges, including expanding container handling berths, increasing automation, acquiring modern equipment, and fostering improved partnerships with government agencies and stakeholders.
- Comparative Advantage of Mombasa:
- A Tanzanian fresh produce dealer highlighted the efficiency at Mombasa, where it takes only two days to book empty containers for export, compared to 14 days in Dar es Salaam.
The surge in container cargo at the port of Mombasa amid regional port congestion presents a unique opportunity for exporters and importers in East Africa.
As the port undergoes strategic enhancements to accommodate the growing demand, businesses can capitalize on Mombasa’s efficiency and reduced waiting times, making it a strategic choice for maritime trade in the region.
However, stakeholders must remain vigilant and work collaboratively to ensure sustained efficiency and address potential challenges arising from increased traffic.