The Kenya Ports Authority has launched a blueprint highlighting measures it seeks to implement to boost, in the next three years, its trans-shipment business with East and Central African countries, which has remained stagnant for more than a decade.
Its 2018-2047 masterplan targets more business with the ports of Dar Salaam Port and Djibouti, via the upcoming Lamu port which, when complete, will be able to host big merchant ships due to its wide berths.
According to Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, three berths of the target 32 are expected to be complete by October and the first mother ship with close to 10,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (teus) is scheduled to dock before December.
The Lamu Port, built under the regional Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor project, is expected to launch operations in November.
"We expect to start competing in the trans-shipment market as the first super post-Panamax vessel is set to dock at Lamu Port before the end of this year," said Mr Macharia.
"We expect more ships in transit to the Dar Salaam port. The Lamu port will boost Africa intra-trade as it can host largest ships which cannot dock in the port of Mombasa."
According to statistics from KPA released last week, only 2.4 per cent of Tanzania-destined cargo passed through the Port of Mombasa, compared with Uganda, which imported over 82 per cent of its cargo through Mombasa.
Uganda is landlocked.
Kenya hopes to trade more with South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, which traded more with Tanzania last year.
In 2018, 69 per cent of Tanzania's intra-Africa imports originated from South Africa and Kenya, with the top 10 imports being sourced from SADC, according to data from the Trade Law Centre.
KPA's 30-year masterplan, to be implemented in three phases, is meant to develop new ports, modernise the existing ones and establish inland container depots across the country.
KPA has earmarked Dongo Kundu in Mombasa as a special economic zone, which will be supported by a number of port facilities to provide space of expansion of Mombasa Port.
The Kisumu port will serve regional and local trade on Lake Victoria.
Other ICDs will be in Taveta and Naivasha. One already exists in Embakasi, Nairobi. The depots are expected to help improve efficiencies in the ports.
KPA aims to increase container capacity from 1.65 million teus to 3.5 million teus by 2030 and ultimately 5.9 million TEUs by 2047.
In terms of tonnage, total capacity is projected to grow from the current 40.6 million tonnes to reach 68.8 million tonnes by 2030 and ultimately 77.8 million tonnes by 2047 for port of Mombasa.
KPA also plans to develop the 20 berths at the Port of Mombasa and install modern facilities to increase efficiency.
Also on the programme is the development of Shimoni as a premier fishing port with a capacity of 50,000 tonnes.