KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY MR. JAMES MACHARIA, EGH,THE CABINET SECRETARY MINISRTY OF TRANSPORT, INFRASTRUCTURE, HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT DURING THE 16TH INTERMODAL CONFERENCE AND EXHIBITION TO BE HELD AT THE WHITESANDS HOTEL, 17TH NOVEMBER 2016
The Transport Events CEO Mr. Rory Doyle
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is indeed a privilege for Kenya to host this 16th Intermodal Africa Conference and Exhibition. May I also join previous speakers to welcome you all to this dignified forum which I am certain has taken a lot of time and commitment to organize. Although many of you already have your diaries full as we come to the end of the year, we are grateful that you prioritized this event in your busy schedules.
As Kenyans, we feel privileged and honored to once again host one of the most important transport events in Africa's transport calendar, having earlier hosted the inaugural Intermodal Africa conference on 13th February 2003. In this regard, I wish to thank the Transport Events Management team led by the CEO Mr Rory Doyle, first for coming up with such a productive event on the continent, and secondly for again choosing Kenya as the host this year. I also thank all of you, especially those from outside Kenya for giving us an opportunity to host and serve you.
A quick look at the topics to be deliberated on during the next two days clearly indicates the seriousness of the discussions and the visionary angle the transport sector in Africa and the rest of the world has taken to address the dynamics of land based and seaborne transport systems - intermodalism. I believe we will all depart from Mombasa more enlightened.
Although this forum will mainly address transport on land and water, it is gratifying to note that the programme has accommodated specific presentations and discussions on opportunities and challenges in the blue economy. It is important to underscore the fact that maritime transport through Ports and harbours will continue to be key interfaces between land and sea and central in the total transport logistics chain. Ports are the interfaces between intercontinental- or inter-regional maritime transport and the production, assembly, storage or consumption hinterland. They are no longer pure maritime related interfaces, but are getting more and more involved in the organization of landside transport in order to increase their control over cargo routing and ensure smooth flow.
Understandably, this transport scenario explains why we are hosting this event not so far away from the sea Port of Mombasa.
Africa-the next frontier
In my view, business growth opportunities have been markedly saturated in Europe and a better part of the Americas. The current focus is on the East and once these economies also grow to their optimum, the focus will - and is already signaling – a shift to Africa hence the question; how prepared is Africa to meet these foreseeable trade challenges and opportunities?
Admittedly, Africa is challenged by a number of issues that afflict the efficiency of their ports, infrastructure and trade in general. These range from capacity constraints, underdeveloped skills, security, gender inequity and financial inadequacies. Others include environmental concerns, unstable political systems, technological setbacks and weak economic and political institutions.
There is therefore a need to put together great minds and share views and perspectives on how these challenges facing the continent and the unexploited opportunities can be managed. Hence, this forum would not have been timelier. With experts from around the world and Africa teaming up to share ideas and experiences in the African transport industry, we look forward to a fruitful outcome that will address ways of improving service delivery for economic growth and development.
Africa's contribution to world trade
Now, recent World trade figures indicate that Africa's share in global trade participation was only 3% at the end of last year and that the continent has as little as a 2.5% share in world exports. This is a wakeup call for us in Africa to improve our intermodal transport systems so as to promote the manufacturing sector, strengthen the export promotion councils, and open up special economic zones for value addition processes for export markets. Going in this direction is the only way to reduce the trade imbalance that exists.
Latest UN survey puts Africa's total population at 1.216 billion, forming 16.36 percent of the world population. Can you imagine such size of a market, exchanging goods and services freely? Huge market as it sounds, it is largely uncoordinated and untapped due to lack of an efficient and integrated transport network.
Huge reserves of natural resources
As the world economies continue recovering from the global economic recession and the Greek effects, Africa with its untapped resources is expected to play a bigger role in global economic growth in the next decade. This is because of the on-going discoveries of huge reserves of natural gas, oil and mineral deposits across the continent. These opportunities cannot be optimally tapped without a well-developed sufficient intermodal transport system across the continent.
Luckily, African states have not been mark-timing. Through the African Union, the governments have so far formulated policies and strategies that can help the continent to make significant headway in infrastructure development especially in the maritime sector.
Many of you may recall that during the 22nd Summit of the African Union (AU) held in Addis Ababa on 31st January 2014, African Heads of States and Governments adopted the 2050 Africa's Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) and Plan of Action to address Africa's Maritime challenges for sustainable development and competitiveness. We all commend AU efforts in coming up with holistic policies to address Africa's intermodal transport challenges.
We cannot deny the fact that the Cost of doing business in Africa is directly determined by the state of infrastructure. Undoubtedly, transport systems interconnectivity in the continent is still poor and the state of affairs cannot be improved if governments do not integrate their investment plans. This is why, as a result of this realization, countries are grouping into regional economic blocks to plan and execute infrastructural developments jointly. In East Africa, the East African Community and partner states have undertaken several joint projects to address the poor state of infrastructure in a number of areas especially in roads, air transport, seaports, railways and communications.
The Kenya case
Ladies and Gentlemen, since this conference is taking place in Kenya, I beg your indulgence to say a few things about the government's efforts towards improvement of the transport industry.
In Kenya, the transport sector has been singled out as a "key pillar and critical enabler" in the implementation process of the Country's long term Development Strategy under the Vision 2030. Consequently, and to ensure that this critical role is effectively executed, the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development has in place a National Integrated Transport Policy with a mission to "develop, operate and maintain an efficient, cost effective, safe, secure and integrated transport system that links the transport policy with other sectoral policies. This is in order to achieve national and international development objectives in a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable manner".
As it is now, the transport sector, unlike in the past, is able to address investment, service quality, safety and security needs of the integrated transport system which is instrumental towards positioning Kenya as the transport hub for the Eastern and Central African region, amongst other goals.
Ladies and Gentlemen
As experts in this industry, you know that ports are the beginning and end of the logistics chain. It is for this reason that in Kenya the Government is committed to the implementation of reforms that will create a conducive trade facilitation environment. Accordingly, two years back, the government directed all government departments involved in the running of the Port of Mombasa to streamline and synergize their operations in order to enhance efficiency by operating under the leadership coordination of one Agency – Kenya Ports Authority (KPA). This integrated approach involves pooling together as a team to offer quality and timely service in a cost effective manner.
Equally significant, in 2014, Mombasa Port stakeholders signed a Port Community Charter as a gesture of commitment to achieving respective set targets along the Northern Corridor that begins from the Port of Mombasa. The implementation of the Charter is closely monitored by the Government to ensure every agency plays its role in boosting the port and transport corridor's performance.
Ladies and Gentlemen
The government has also made significant input to reduce to bare minimum non-tariff barriers along the Northern Transport Corridor that serves the East and Central Africa Region. We are now allowing loaded trucks to weigh only two times between the Port and the boarder points without further inspection at police mobile road blocks unless for exceptional security reasons. These efforts have seen substantial benefits to port users, among others, reduction in container dwell time and transit times to neighboring countries.
We are making commendable efforts to address trade facilitation through automation under the Kenya National Single Window System. By implementing this system cargo interveners can avoid logging on multiple systems hence ease documentation process, quicken cargo clearance and lower the cost of doing business in the region.
Other projects and initiatives that are in progress and we have continued to fast-track include:
- Construction of the Second Container Terminal whose first phase is complete and operational. Plans are underway to start construction of phase two
- Construction of Lamu port. The execution process of Plans to put up the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport corridor (LAPSSET) project, which will soon see the birth of Kenya's second largest commercial Port, is ongoing. This project will serve more than three countries in the region. Dredging of the channel and reclamation has commenced.
- Construction of the Standard Gauge Railway connecting Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda is ongoing. Phase one (Mombasa – Nairobi) will be completed and become operational by July 2017.
- The construction of an alternative route from Mombasa Port to Burundi, passing through Holili boarder-Singida-Kobero border and finally to Bujumbura is ongoing. This Corridor will cover about 1,545Kms, which reduces the distance from Mombasa to Bujumbura through the Northern Corridor by 358 Kms. So far the government has already commenced the upgrading of the road from Voi to Taveta on the Kenyan side. KPA has also acquired 50 acres of land at Taveta (Kenya – Tanzania boarder) to position itself in bringing business closer to Burundians by establishing an Inland Container Depot.
- Progession of initiatives to enhance industrial growth and development through Special Economic Zones in strategic areas. In Mombasa we have advanced plans to establish the Dongo Kundu Special Economic Zone.
- To quicken documentation, the Single Customs Territory which is an initiative supported by the East African Community is up and running and has so far been embraced by Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. This is one among many infrastructure projects set by the three countries under the wider Community framework. Under this arrangement, clearance and revenue collection by transit importers and governments respectively is done at the Port of Mombasa which is the first point of entry.
- In addition, the National Single Window System is up and running. This is a common IT platform that enables cargo interveners in the supply chain to log in and lodge documentation, issue permits and or release cargo. By implementing this system cargo interveners can avoid logging on multiple systems hence ease documentation process, faster cargo clearance and lower the cost of doing business in the region
So, as you can see, the Kenya government and indeed the East African region is substantially moving in the right direction and in appropriate alignment with AIMS 2050. The Kenya government is doing this knowing that Africa must improve its intra-connectivity to encourage free movement of goods and persons. This way, we will be able to trade amongst ourselves and grow to a powerful economic block, with a vast market.
We are happy to note that through the support of our investment partners like the Governments of Japan, China, the European Union, the World Bank, the African Development Bank and Trademark East Africa Ltd, infrastructural developments in the whole of the East African region is being coordinated jointly to ensure that all state partners are moving in the same direction and at fairly same speed.
I wish to once again welcome you all to Kenya. I encourage you to take a day or two after the conference to sample the flora and fauna of this country. We have rich historical sites, fine beaches at the Coast and game parks, some very close to this venue, with a wide variety of wildlife.
As you begin your deliberations for the next two days, I urge you to come up with practical resolutions that will serve as building blocks towards turning our infrastructure and transport dreams into reality. It is now my pleasure to declare this 16th Intermodal Africa Transport conference officially open.
Thank you and May God bless you.