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Modernizing ports and the Northern corridor key to boosting trade with regional neighbours

Modernizing Kenya’s ports and decongesting the Northern transport corridor will be a game changer in establishing the country as the regional gateway for trade.
Treasury Cabinet Secretary (CS) Ukur Yatani speaking at the treasury Tuesday, while signing financing agreements with Trademark East Africa (TMEA) said that reducing the time it takes to enter and exit our borders will make us the transit partner of choice for our regional neighbours.
Yatani said that TMEA has given Kenya financial assistance amounting to Sh1.3 billion which has been complemented with technical assistance for the economic development of the country and facilitating regional trade and integration in East Africa.
“The four grant agreements worth Sh1.31 billion signed will facilitate trade and unlock the economic growth of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) given that this investment is in critical infrastructure,” said Yatani.
He explained that the projects include the dualling of Magongo road in Mombasa where Sh200 million has been spent so far and it will form an important link for cargo leaving the Mombasa port and joining the Northern transport corridor and this will improve efficiency by reducing congestion and increasing road capacity.
“Likewise the dualling of the two kilometer carriage way to Busia One Stop Border Post at Sh300 million will ease movement in and out of Kenya and into the region. The construction of the Busia cross border Jumuiya market at Sh485 million as earlier directed by President Uhuru Kenyatta will accommodate approximately 10, 000 traders and provide secure all weather market space,” said the CS.
He added that they are working on completion of the additional construction works at the Malaba Ones Stop Border Post estimated to cost Sh325 million and it includes road works, bridge approaches, improvement of the administrative building and provision of utilities and services.
The CS said that these projects will create efficient borders and facilitate international trade, investment, economic growth, promotion of competitiveness and improved relations between the countries in the region.
He said that the preparatory works have been done and called on the implementing agencies to expedite the implementation and ensure they are completed on schedule without additional cost to the exchequer because the citizens of the region cannot settle for anything less.
“The region is very important for the wellbeing of our country since we cannot operate on our own and we can only flourish economically in a peaceful atmosphere that can also accommodate economic growth and that is why we are looking at remaining competitive at the regional front,” explained Yatani.
Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) Limited Chief Operating Officer David Stanton said that they have been supporting Kenya in its vision of trade, industrialization, economic growth and job creation.
“We have helped the modernization of trade systems and building the capacity of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) in Kenya to access regional and international markets,” said Stanton.
“We operate in Eastern, Southern and Horn of Africa and Kenya is so far our largest partner. We view Kenya as a vital footprint country because of its ports and the entry through the Northern transport corridor and how it feeds 150 million people in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and DRC,” he said.
He explained that in their strategy two, they will invest 156 million Dollars in Kenya between 2017 and 2021 and have already injected 107 million Dollars in the port of Mombasa as a key national asset.
“We have also helped the Kenyan government build and operationalize four One Stop Border Posts at key borders in the region which are in Busia, Malaba, Taita Taveta and Moyale and we are happy that the posts are now more efficient,” said Stanton.
Ministry of East African Community (EAC) Principal Secretary (PS) Dr. Kevit Desai said that the Kenya-Uganda trade statistics indicate that the value of Kenya imports from Uganda has grown from Sh11.5 billion in 2016 to Sh34.5 in 2017 and Sh47.3 billion in 2018 while on the other hand the value of exports has dropped from Sh24.2 billion in 2016 to Sh18 billion in 2017 and Sh8.9 billion in 2018.
Dr. Desai said that potential of trade growth along the Northern transport corridor is high and needs to be harnessed by investing to create infrastructure, promote trade and increase our export earnings to finance our imports.
“Kenya has the critical Northern corridor which is the entry to Eastern and Central Africa, but lack of a physical link and logistics center has resulted in the failure by the corridor to attract adequate investment to generate economic activities to spur development,” said the PS.

By Joseph Ng’ang’a

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