Eastern Africa Develops Water and Rail Transport Infrastructure

By Still Hardy
Published June 25, 2017

Tanzania has in 2017 put its Bagamoyo Port project on hold as it concentrates on the expansion of Mtwara and Dar ports.From Djibouti to Kenya and Tanzania, eastern Africa appears to be in a frenzy in developing its water and rail transport infrastructure.

Djibouti, with the assistance of China, has already completed and launched its Doraleh Multipurpose Port (DMP) that is touted as being the most advanced port in Africa.

The 690-hectare DMP that cost USD$590m and was officially opened on by Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh and Ethiopian Premier Hailemariam Desalegn on May 26 can handle 100,000 Dead Weight Tonnage (DWT) vessels.

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DMP is expected to improve the efficiency and ease of doing business in the Horn of Africa as it connects Addis Ababa, some 752 kilometres away, with the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Standard Gauge Railway that was also built by China and has already been launched.

The masterplan of Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport and Development Corridor (LAPSSET).Some 30000 ships pass through Djibouti that connects Asia, Africa and Europe each year. Of the total goods handled by Djibouti, 59%, 21% and 16% come from Asia, Europe and Africa, respectively.

Kenya, whose Mombasa Port has been the gateway to East African hinterland–Uganda, Rwanda, Congo-Kinshasa–on its part, is working on its own new port that is expected to connect it with South Sudan and Ethiopia.

Three of the 32 planned berths that have cost the Government of Kenya US$480 million are expected to be ready for use in early 2018. The remaining berts of the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport and Development Corridor (LAPSSET) shall be funded by private investors on a public-private partnership (PPP) model.

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Planned to handle bigger vessels than Mombasa Port, Lamu Port is expected to accommodate 30000 DWT and 100000 DWT for general bulk and container cargo, respectively.

As Djibouti opens DMP and Kenya continues to work on LAPSSET in collaboration with China, Tanzania is also working on its 2400-hectare Bagamoyo Port, said to be East Africa’s largest port.

Doraleh Multipurpose Port (DMP) that is touted as being the most advanced port in Africa opened in May 2017.Like Djibouti’s  DMP and Kenya’s LAPSSET, Tanzania’s Bagamoyo, too,  shall be developed complete with a railway line.

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An electric train that plies the 752-kilometre Addis Ababa-Djibouti Standard Gauge Railway.The project is funded by China and Oman and is expected to provide stiff competition to Kenya’s Mombasa Port as countries like Rwanda, Uganda and Congo-Kinshasa that have traditionally relied on Kenya have already indicated that they will shift to Bagamoyo Port.

However, Kenya is likely to continue enjoying its advantage for a while as the John Magufuli Presidency put the US$11 billion Bagamoyo Port project on hold in January 2017 saying it makes economic sense to expand its Dar es Salaam and Mtwara ports first.

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