Leverage Lamu port to spur economy
The Lamu port will be officially launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta tomorrow in what will be the first major step towards actualising the mega Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) project linking Kenya to various landlocked countries.
Capable of accommodating larger cargo ships, the port will not only reduce congestion in Mombasa, Djibouti and Sudan ports but also generate new opportunities through the projected Lapsset corridor.
The port’s position, length and depth, places it at a better place to rival the two other harbours in a move expected to expand Kenya’s regional trade through the new port.
It will directly leverage opportunities for cargo business from bigger ships operating the Horn of Africa, especially those that dock in the Durban harbour in South Africa and Salalah port in Oman.
With renewed government commitment and positive signals, if the corridor’s dream will be achieved in line with Vision 2030, a highway, a railway line, a crude oil pipeline and a fibre-optic cable will connect Kenya to Ethiopia, Uganda and South Sudan.
Special economic zones, resort cities, airports, an oil refinery, and other supporting projects will emerge.
At a time when Kenya is seeking opportunities for growth, this project could be a godsend.
Therefore, Nairobi must now consider how to spur investor appetite for these projects.
Already, for Kenya, and despite logistical challenges, South Sudan and Ethiopia offer lucrative business opportunities for the port. Pundits say that channeling cargo from Djibouti port to Ethiopia and South Sudan is expensive due to the hilly terrain.
The Lamu port is favoured for business given the high demand for raw materials in southern Ethiopia as investors establish factories and industries thus enhancing the need for them to use the Lamu-Garissa-Isiolo-Moyale route.
Kenya must start talking to South Sudan, which had complained about the slow pace of the project to smell the coffee, since this will be a solution to otherwise high transit charges on its oil exports.
While at it, a marketing blitz should follow the opening of the new port to ensure all interested parties play their part in this mega project. Only then can the project be fruitful.
Having come this far amid sustained opposition and challenges, whatever it takes, the billions already suck into the projects must not go to waste.
Apart from attracting investors, Kenya must also leverage its strategic position in the region and various economic blocs to ensure other countries support these worthy projects which are purposed to open up economies beyond eastern Africa with railway lines.
If the corridor attracts more funds, a Lapsset railway will be laid to West Africa’s Douala–Lagos–Cotonou–Abidjan Corridor and run through Cameroon, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, creating synergies for a mega market for the port.