Investments galore in EA ports outlook

A new report by Genius Business Systems (GBS Africa) a financial and software advisory firm focusing on connecting global pools of capital and new pockets of opportunity based in London sees Dar es Salaam port as chiefly engaged in challenging the traditional dominance of the port of Mombasa.

Still, the report sees the planned new deep harbour facility at Bagamoyo as the major investment of the future in unlocking shipping potential in the Tanzanian context as a regional hub.

Of vital interest in mapping out the role of Dar es Salaam port in future is the fact that new developments in Lamu, a northern Kenya port, and Bagamoyo are likely to challenge the dominance of the port of Mombasa, which the report says it needs a new investor and operational partner.

The report notes that the port of Dar es Salaam offers faster and more cost-effective trade and transport solutions than Kilindini Harbour in Mombasa, citing the fact that the port of Dar es Salaam is benefitting from ongoing expansion and investments.

Plans for a new deep-water facility to be built by Chinese contractors at Bagamoyo are being revitalised, it said, affirming all the same that “there remain serious environmental, social and governance concerns” that remain to be solved in relation to that project.

Recalling that Dar es Salaam port is designed to handle more than 10m tonnes of cargo annually, where 4m tonnes is dry general cargo, 6m tonnes of liquid bulk and 1m tonnes is the container terminal section.

What is strategically noticeable at present is construction of facilities to diversify regional trade and shipping routes, with Turkish, Emirati, South African and Chinese investors leading the pack to refurbish and expand East African ports.

UAE and UK-led expansion are working on the port of Berbera in Somaliland, a breakaway province of Somalia.

This emerging diversity “creates a highly lucrative trade corridor to inland markets and population centres, while attracting fresh investments into associated sectors,” the report indicated.

Within the ongoing strategic remaking of the port business in East Africa, there is growing consensus among port stakeholders that Tanzania should seek a new strategic investor to boost the efficiency of port of Dar es Salaam, following the underperformance of the Tanzania International Container Terminal Services (TICTS) handling a vital section of the port facility for over 20 years.

Stakeholders feel that Dar es Salaam port has so far not been able to effectively take advantage of congestion problems at Mombasa port to woo cargo business from landlocked countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi, Uganda, Zambia, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe.

They affirm that Dar es Salaam port has the potential to emerge as the key trans-shipment hub for landlocked countries in commodity exports like tea, coffee, tobacco, oilseeds, cotton, sisal, and cashew nuts.

Exports of metals like copper, graphite and gold sand feature in current and projected port use at its container terminal currently being operated by TICTS.

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