Kigali — Rwanda's export and import cargo through Mombasa Port dropped by 12.3 percent to 133,188 tonnes in the first six months of 2009 from 151,780 tonnes in the same period last year, the port's management said on Tuesday.
Authorities attributed the decline in Rwanda's trade volume to the effects of the global economic recession that caused the country's major export destinations to cut demand. This, according to officials, caused a sharp decline in export value in the first two months of 2009.
"The reduction at the beginning of the year can generally be attributed to the global financial crisis which led to slowdown in business- this is the immediate reason," said William B.Mtengo Kenya Ports Authority's (KPA) Resident Regional Representative in Kampala.
Previously, Rwanda's cargo traffic through the port had been steadily increasing reaching 293,501 metric tonnes in 2008 up from the previous year's 286,665 tonnes due to the increase in agricultural exports.
Statistics show that in 2006 the Rwandan cargo handled by the port amounted to 253,113 tonnes compared to 218,590 tonnes and 201,817 tonnes handled in 2005 and 2004 respectively.
However, Mtengo said he is anticipating a positive trend in the coming months with signs of recovery in the global economy.
"I believe the situation is improving in the global economy. We shall also see an improvement," he said.
In comparison with other countries since the beginning of the year, Rwanda ranks second in doing business at the Port in East Africa with 5.9 percent, while Uganda leads with 77. 0 percent of the transit market share, Tanzania at 5.5 percent and Burundi 0.6 percent respectively.
According to the Port's 2008 report released earlier this year, the global recession coupled with other challenges that prevailed in 2008 and adversely affected shipping.
While Container traffic grew by 5.2 percent from 585,367 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) in 2007 to 615,733 in 2008, the port's growth rate is lower than the 22.1 percent growth witnessed in 2007.
"The slowdown in growth of container traffic was a result of a sluggish economic performance occasioned by the post-election skirmishes experienced early in the year and the current global economic downturn," the report reads in part.