Mombasa port grows 12pc despite regional rivalry

Tuesday March 26 2024

Kenya Ports Authority Managing Director William Ruto. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


Container traffic through Kenya's main port serving several countries in the region grew by 11.9 percent in 2023 on the back of a resurgent trade and economic activity, its operator Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has said.

Traffic through Mombasa port is observed as an indicator of activity in the region's economies. Apart from Kenya, it handles cargo to and from Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, the eastern DRC and Somalia.

The facility handled 1.6 million 20-foot equivalent container units (TEU) in 2023, up from 1.45 million in 2022, Capt William Ruto, the KPA managing director said.

“Despite global uncertainties, the port of Mombasa has demonstrated significant growth in 2023. This is a testament to our commitment to operational excellence and efficiency,” he said on the Mombasa port performance.

Read: Mombasa, Dar cargo volumes keep rising with rivalry

By weight, the Mombasa port handled 35.98 million tonnes of cargo in 2023, up from 33.88 million the previous year.


Transit traffic —destined for countries other than Kenya — rose 11.5 percent to 11.41 million tonnes in 2023.

“This growth underscores the port’s strategic importance in facilitating trade flows within the East African region,” Mr Ruto said.

Uganda, South Sudan, and the DRC were the biggest transit markets for cargo through the port in 2023, accounting for 62.3 percent, 52 percent, and 57 percent of the total volumes, respectively.

"Our performance has gone up because of the transit market. We recently had a meeting with representatives from Rwanda and they toured our facilities. They have assured us that most of their cargo will be transited through the port of Mombasa as we have witnessed in the last two months", the KPA boss said.

During the first half of 2023, a surge in container traffic through the Mombasa port helped to grow revenue to Ksh33 billion compared to Ksh22 billion in a similar window of the previous year.

Read: Mombasa Port cargo shipments rise amid Dar insufficiency

"Our numbers are doing well because we have already registered more than 400,000 TEUs in the first quarter. We are projecting that by the end of this month (March), we should be at around 480,000 TEUs, and by the end of the year we are targeting 2 million TEUs," Mr Ruto said.

The official said the Mombasa port also registered an improvement in container turnaround time from 3.6 days in 2022 to 2.3 days last year.

The port recorded a faster cargo dwell time of 2.9 days in 2023 against 3.9 days in the previous year. Cargo dwell is the time containers take awaiting transportation.

Vessel turnaround time also improved from 4.8 days to 4.4 days during the same period. Vessel turnaround time is the duration a ship takes to unload, load new cargo and be ready for its next voyage.

The KPA has stepped up modernisation of equipment at the Mombasa port, recently acquiring four ship-to-shore gantry (STS) and five mobile harbour cranes. An STS is a type of large gantry crane found in port and quayside to load, unload and transport intermodal containers from vessels.

Additionally, the parastatal is procuring 10 rubber-tyred gantry cranes for the second container terminal.