Kenya’s Ports Authority Plans Loans for Mombasa Harbor Expansion

A dock worker for the Kenya Ports Authority directs the unloading of shipping containers from freight ships at Mombasa port in Mombasa, Kenya.

Photographer: Trevor Snapp/Bloomberg

The Kenya Ports Authority plans to borrow 34 billion shillings ($328 million) to finance the expansion of East Africa’s biggest harbor on the southeast coast, Managing Director Gichiri Ndua said.

The state-run authority will begin construction in 2018 on the second phase of a plan to enable the facility to handle more and bigger ships, including Panamax vessels, Ndua said by phone Thursday from the port city. Additions will include a 300-meter (984-foot) quay and deepening the port by 15 meters, he said.

The expansion will enable the port to handle 450,000 more containers, lifting overall capacity to “slightly above 2 million” 20-foot equivalent units, or TEUs, when it’s completed in 2022, Ndua said. “We will raise the money in soft loans from international development partners,” he said, declining to provide further details on financing.

Mombasa is boosting capacity to cater for growing domestic demand and rising cargo volumes for landlocked countries including Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo that it serves. Kenya’s economy, the largest in East Africa, is expected to grow 6 percent this year, compared with 5.3 percent in 2014, according to the country’s Treasury.

The Kenyan port is facing increased competition from neighboring Tanzania, which is expanding its port at Dar es Salaam and plans to spend $11 billion on a new port at Bagamoyo.

Mombasa will handle about 1.125 million TEUs this year, up from around 1 million handled last year. The port expects to clear 26.5 million tons of cargo by year-end.

A second container terminal, currently under construction, with the capacity to handle 450,000 TEUs, will be commissioned by March. The authority has shortlisted seven international companies to manage the facility and the winning bidder for the contract will be announced in two months, Ndua said.

The KPA will also invite bids for the construction of a new oil jetty, which should be able to handle as many as four vessels at a time, in the fourth quarter.

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