16 February 2013

Kenya: Mombasa Port Reforms Urgently Needed ? World Bank

The World Bank is advising the Kenyan government to reform operations at the port of Mombasa to revive the manufacturing industry. Outgoing World Bank country director Johannes Zutt says the costs associated with delays, poor handling of goods and corruption accrue to make Kenyan products uncompetitive.

Inefficiency at the port of Mombasa is one of the biggest contributors to the decline of the manufacturing sector, the World Bank says. "Appropriate reforms at the port will actually increase the number of jobs and opportunities, contrary to the fears expressed by those working there," Zutt said.

Port workers have expressed concerns that privatization of the facility would render them jobless. In a statement likely to be construed to mean that the World Bank is in support of the now controversial privatisation proposal, Zutt said such reforms would infact create more jobs at the port, and support rapid growth of the manufacturing sector.

According to Zutt, the manufacturing sector is underdeveloped due to high cost of inputs owing poor infrastructure at the port besides the high cost of energy.

"The port has the potential to become the premier point of call for international sea trade, but also risks loosing its preferred status if the bottlenecks are not removed," Zutt said.

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