Kenya‘s ambitions to become a regional shipbuilding and repair center have received a major boost after the flotation of the first ship to be assembled locally in almost 70 years.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, who has overseen the revitalization of Kenya’s maritime transport and logistics sector to position the East African nation as a shipping hub, witnesses the flotation of the new 1,800-ton MV Uhuru II Wagon ferry at Kisumu Pier after officially inaugurating Kenya Shipyards Limited (KSL) Kisumu shipyard.
The $20M MV Uhuru II is the first ship to be built locally by KSL, working with Dutch partner Damen Shipyards. The ferry, which is nearing completion, is scheduled to be put into operation before the end of this year.
Damen, the Netherlands-based international shipyard group, supports KSL with shipbuilding consultancy services and provides the technical know-how needed to build the ferry.
“The ferry is a flagship project aimed at positioning Kenya as a regional shipbuilding hub and unleashing Kenya’s immense blue economy potential,” said President Kenyatta.
He added that the key sub-sectors of the blue economy, which include maritime transport and logistics, fisheries and shipbuilding and ship-repair, represent low-hanging fruit that need to be exploited.
The successful assembly of the ferry at Kisumu Shipyard saved the Kenyan taxpayer $10.8 million in imports through its use and increased the Port of Kisumu’s transport capacity to over 3,060 tons. It will complement the 1,260-ton MV built in 1966 Uhuru 1which is currently transferring goods – mainly petroleum products – to neighboring Uganda.
MV Uhuru II is used to move petroleum and petroleum products and other goods to neighboring countries in Lake Victoria, and is part of Kenya’s broader plan to build a multimodal transport system to serve the East Africa region. The plan also envisages the revitalization of Kisumu Port on Lake Victoria, creating a multimodal system of road, rail and water.
The ferry floated just a day after President Kenyatta, who is set to step down after general elections scheduled for Aug. 9, opened Kisumu’s railway station and expressed optimism that rail service would improve the city’s status on August 9 Lake will strengthen as an economic center that not only connects Tanzania and Uganda, but also other countries such as Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“Due to this rail, the cost of travel from Mombasa to Kisumu will decrease. The cost of transporting goods from Mombasa to Kisumu will also decrease,” he said.
Courtesy of the PSCU
The inauguration of the Kisumu Shipyard, a facility that will repair, overhaul and rehabilitate vessels for use in Lake Victoria, means Kenya now has two shipyards, providing the country with the facilities needed to take on the lucrative shipbuilding and repair business to compete in the region.
Kenya believes that the country, along with the Mombasa Shipyard (which opened last December), can also make significant foreign exchange savings that will be used to service its ships in foreign shipyards. The shipyards are managed by KSL, a military-run agency that has already received six orders to build ships from Tanzania and Uganda, and a further 11 orders from local firms.
With the two shipyards, Kenya joins the leagues of South Africa and Egypt, which have managed to build a dynamic local shipbuilding industry.