Stakeholders in the logistics sector are meeting at Kenya’s Lakeside City of Kisumu to deliberate on the potential of the region in opening up maritime trade with Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda.
The discussions have been narrowed to the crucial role that the recently launched port of Kisumu can play in enhancing the movement of goods from Kenya to the Greatlakes countries.
The top-level maritime summit will also discuss many investment opportunities in the Blue Economy in line with the recently intensified operations at the Kisumu port, which is believed to be performing dismally.
The summit features stakeholders from the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA), Kenya National Shipping Line Limited (KNSL), and Kisumu Lakefront Development Corporation (KLDC) amongst others.
“The conference is poised to tremendously enhance the lakeside county and its neighbourhood economic diversification drive and position Kisumu as a maritime hub,” said Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o.
Prof Nyong’o described the summit as a cornerstone event where experts and leaders from the partnering organisations would share imaginative ideas that would be incorporated in bettering the maritime industry.
According to Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), the Kisumu facility operates only at a fraction of its capacity and previous throughput.
The port still handles some of the local cargo and specific transit freight. However, all freight volumes had dwindled due to the lack of critical mass and the reliability of the transport system.
However, there are hopes of enhanced cargo volumes with a recently refurbished railway line that will connect the port of Mombasa to the Kisumu facility.
Kenya has completed the construction of a line that links the Standard Gauge Railway to a Metre Gauge Railway in Naivasha and runs all the way to the port of Kisumu.
The lakeside city is a critical hub for trade with Tanzania and Uganda as well as Rwanda and Burundi because of Lake Victoria that passes through these countries.
KPA has refurbished the MV Uhuru, a vessel that will be used for transportation of goods between the Kisumu Port and Uganda harbour of Port Bell.
With a projection of strong economic growth in the region, Kisumu’s local cargo imports are estimated to increase to approximately 130,000 tonnes by 2025, and further to 180,000 tons by 2035.