Kenya,Rwanda,Uganda plans to achieve efficiency at port of Mombasa
The unveiling of a new berth at East Africa’s busiest port by President Yoweri Museveni accompanied by his Rwandan and Kenyan counterparts was a clear demonstration that the three countries are surging ahead with infrastructure developments that does not seem to involve Tanzania which is the region’s second largest economy.One agreement reached by Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame,Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni and representatives from South Sudan and Burundi was that relevant ministries finalize use of national Identity Cards as travel documents in the three countries before October 15 this year.They also agreed a common visa expected to ease travel plans for those intending to tour East African attractions. The region also has advanced plans to introduce a single currency under a monetary union in the regions with a combined estimated population of 135 million.East African region has a collective Gross Domestic Product of $79 billion.
To be fair, many hard-working port staff performs diligently to serve the East African region northern corridor.In my past research, a port well run and managed is largely dependent on its bureaucracy and for the case of Mombasa port that has been part of its inefficiency.Research shows that the more efficient and productive a bureaucracy, the better a port is managed. In today’s highly competitive regional trading environment, an efficient bureaucracy is also essential in maintaining port’s competitiveness.Port of Mombasa’s bureaucracy has been for a long time been famously bloated and inefficient.In fact, according to some estimates from World Bank report last year, there are more bureaucracies at the port than there are in the government of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda combined. Reforming the Mombasa port bureaucracy has been a stated goal of the recently elected President Uhuru Kenyatta administration.Therefore, the Kenyan government as a major beneficiary port efficiency should have stricter entry criteria and more stringent performance benchmarks that seem to have started with the trio agreement two months ago Entebbe meeting.
Many go beyond their call of duty and even put their lives on the line especially when they are fighting smuggling of ivory and drugs through the port.Despite difficult working conditions, port staff toil daily so that the business community in the region can enjoy better service. In this highly competitive trade world where business, ideas, technology and goods move easily and faster, many countries utilize their ports to support economic development.Starting June this year, the three countries of Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya held the meeting in Entebbe Uganda on how to jointly fund an develop infrastructure and the second having taken place in Mombasa two days ago.For many years, the Mombasa port’s contribution to East African countries development has been well documented. The three governments needs to go further and integrate South Sudan, Burundi and Ethiopia into the regional economic mechanisms and collaborate to transfer knowledge and technology and trade together for the benefit of the region. However, without a firm government policy and implementation on the agreed projects, the three countries cannot fully take advantage of global business, network, resources and financial capital.
In addition, when the three governments created the special cargo clearance zones at the port of Mombasa, it gave special privileges to all tax authorities and traders who for a very long time have been craving for efficiencies, thus promoting a strong regional attachment to the business sector. One would only hope that after the three governments starts to resolutely implement the agreed projects, not only providing, facilitating and connecting the regional counterparts, but it will also create a legal framework for the Kenyans, Ugandans and Tanzanians, especially related to cross border movement so that three countries citizens will be able to stay, work, acquire property and easily invest.Me think leaders in the three countries must also address infrastructure links and other communication bottlenecks that impede enhanced movement of people, goods and services across the borders and there is need for more efficient transport and communications infrastructure and there is no doubt that Port of Mombasa is good start for the region.