Rwanda has opened the Masaka dry port for business with the launch on Monday of the $35 million-worth Kigali Logistics Platform, built and operated by Dubai World—a United Arab Emirates-based trade logistics firm.
The facility provides services in container handling, loading and unloading from trucks, warehousing and cold storage; and is expected to reduce the time taken for cargo truck-turnaround from two weeks to three days.
It was developed through a concession. Dubai World will run it for 25 years before handing it over to the government.
The port’s construction began in early 2016 in Masaka, east of Kigali, close to the special economic zone and will link Rwanda to both the Northern and Central transport corridors, as well as save almost $50 million a year in logistics costs when operating at full capacity, according to the Rwanda Development Board.
Patience Mutesi, the country director for Trademark East Africa told The EastAfrican that the logistics hub will help solve some of the persistent bottlenecks that dog the movement of goods to and from Rwanda.
“Many challenges still exist for traders in the region. Offloading and reloading outbound cargo at both the Mombasa and Dar es Salaam ports takes days and sometimes even weeks to be completed,” said Ms Mutesi.
The Masaka dry port was therefore developed as the logical termination point of the proposed standard gauge railway from both the Uganda and Tanzania line, to improve connectivity with the ports of Mombasa in Kenya and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
The Kigali Logistics Platform has an annual capacity of handling 50,000 containers, and is the country’s first 24-hour monitored inland cargo terminal.
Users will be able to track their goods through mobile and online apps. Before it, the country’s cargo was handled by the Magerwa Warehouse, which has had a monopoly since 1963, operating warehouses at every border post.
The Magerwa Warehouse is managed by Singaporean firm Portek International, and currently handles 90 per cent of all imports, as well as goods transiting through and exported from Rwanda.
Officiating the opening, President Paul Kagame said; “With the launch of this facility, Rwanda is doing its part to connect with the larger market of more than 1.2 billion consumers in Africa and beyond. The Kigali Logistics Platform is really getting up and running at a pivotal moment in our continent’s economic transformation.”
He added: “We, therefore, want to challenge our business people and investors, starting with the industries located in this neighbourhood and from the region and beyond, to make full use of it. There is no excuse not to pursue the vast opportunities available to us.”
Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, DP World chairman and CEO, said: “We look forward to building on our strategic partnership with the Rwandan government to expand the logistics and trade sector, by empowering the Rwandan people to increase the attractiveness of the country as a key trade hub in Africa.”
Market estimates show that the cost of transporting a 20-foot container from China to Mombasa is about $500-$1,000, but skyrockets to about $4,000 when moving the same container from Mombasa to Kigali.
“This logistics hub will compliment Rwanda’s ambition to promote its exports through the ‘Made in Rwanda’ initiative, and it is now up to exporters to increase their quantities,’’ said Seka Fred, president of the Federation of East African Freight Forwarders Associations.
Meanwhile, Kenya recently announced plans to set up warehouses in Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo to tighten its grip on the regional export market in the hinterland.
The government has already embarked on constructing an inland port in Naivasha, 200km east of Nairobi, near where the SGR currently terminates.