Uganda shipped its maiden fuel cargo from the Port of Kisumu last month, bringing a spark to the Lake Victoria port that has been positioning itself as a major gateway into the East African region.
The 4.5 million litres of fuel ferried aboard Mt Kabaka Mutebi 11 marked the revival of the water transport corridor between the two neighbours and boosts Kenya’s efforts of creating jobs in the Western region.
Uganda’s decision to start ferrying fuel from the Port of Kisumu is also key to Kenya’s efforts of beating Tanzania in the race to be the major entry point for fuel products into East Africa.
Uganda which relies on Kenya to meet its fuel needs had delayed the construction of an oil jetty on its side of Lake Victoria, frustrating Kenya’s efforts to reap from the refurbished Kisumu Port.
The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority had not responded to queries on the amount of fuel that Uganda expects to ship through the Port of Kisumu but Kampala says that it will be using four ships each with a capacity of 4.5 million litres.
Kenya completed the refurbishment of the Kisumu Port at a cost of Sh3 billion ($30 million) in 2019 but the relaunch of the facility was delayed as Uganda lagged in building its oil jetty.
Kenyan ships have since the refurbishment of the Port of Kisumu ferried fuel to the neighbouring country and the use of the Ugandan vessels completes the revival of the facility, setting the stage for more jobs in the region.
Besides creating jobs, shipments via the Port of Kisumu will further cement Kenya’s position as the entry point for petroleum products into the East African region taking pressure off the roads in the transportation of petroleum products to Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Kenya has two major facilities in the Western region–the Eldoret depot and Kisumu depot with storage capacities of 48 million litres and 45 million litres respectively.
Nairobi has since August last year been counting on the revival of Kisumu Port to create thousands of jobs and revive the economy of Western Kenya by re-opening the water transport corridor.
Kenya has for years relied on road transport to truck fuel from the Port of Mombasa to meet Uganda’s demand which is estimated at 180 million litres a day.
Uganda relies on the Port of Mombasa for at least 90 per cent of its fuel needs with the Port of Dar es Salaam accounting for the remainder was expected to build its oil jetty two years ago.
Mahathi Infra Uganda Ltd, the consortium of private investors that was building the jetty on the Ugandan side had 2020 said that the facility would be completed before April last year.
The delays prompted Kenya to open talks with Tanzania over the possibility of supplying the Musoma Port via the Kisumu facility.
The Port of Kisumu has been billed as a multimodal regional gateway that has been neglected for decades as transporters shifted to roads.