The Private Sector Federation (PSF), the umbrella arm of the private sector in Rwanda is backing the privatisation of the Mombasa port, which is currently locked in a spat spotlight of inefficiency, congestion, surcharges and vessel-delays.
Roger Munyampenda, the Chief Executive Officer of PSF told Business Times in an exclusive interview that any intervention that will decongest and streamline the operations of the port, which is East Africa’s major handling port, will be good for Rwanda.
He said the move should be able to solve issues of vessel-delays and congestion and bring speed and reliability.
“What we need is cost effective operations, minimize the time spent to clear the cargo and the cargo surcharges, which can work for us as a landlocked country,” Munyampenda said.
This comes at a time when the privatisation process is marred by a political row within Kenya. It has increased tension on the fate of privatisation of the port in the neighbouring countries, which heavily depend on it for their imports and exports.
Munyampenda said that it is the responsibility of the Kenya Port Authority (KPA) to ensure that the current challenges that are aching traders are solved in order to cope with the growth and local demand.
The Kenyan government in a bid to improve services at KPA wishes to privatise part of the Mombasa port to improve on the water berths, expand the cargo handling facilities, and also put in place improved ICT systems to meet the increasing demand on the port.
The port is the key exit and entry point for cargo belonging to Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Northern Tanzania south Sudan and Ethiopia. Its privatisation comes amidst a projected positive increase in economic growth of the region.
According to Faustin Mbundu, a Rwandan businessman and former Chairman of the East African Business Council (EABC), privatisation of the port will create efficiency, quicken business and cut costs.
“Privatisation will quicken business, development of ICT for example, and development of water berths will cut costs and improve efficiency.”
He, however, added that there is need for the Kenyan government to do the privatisation process well to ensure that its purpose is achieved.
“They have privatised energy facilities, the banks and the railways and have been successful. It is important that the process is done well; choose the right candidate who will improve on the current challenges,” he stressed.
The World Bank is also pushing for urgency in the privatisation process of the port, arguing that it has created inefficiency of operations capacity for containerised cargo hindering the growth of the East African Community.
“It is a problem which is set to get worse very quickly unless decisive action is taken,” says the World Bank study.
Munyampenda said that Rwanda is not worried of what will transpire from this plan because it has option of the central corridor (Kigali- Dar-el- Salaam) which has improved road networks, no vessel delays and congestion are being looked into.
He also noted that they are in discussions with Maritini, a new private port in Mombasa as one way of creating an alternative to hedge against possible risks at Mombasa port.
“We would assume that Kenya government will do this privatisation well, to ensure that politics, strikes don’t sabotage the process, but should that happen then we will have options like the central corridor and we are discussing with Maritini which is a private led port to see how to benefit and be part of it,” he explained.