Kenya’s main port of Mombasa handled 11 percent more cargo in the first quarter of this year, helped by increased efficiency after its handling capacity was expanded, the port’s management said on Wednesday.
Last year Kenya commissioned a second container terminal worth $300 million at the port, which is 900 metres long with three docking berths, and provides an additional cargo-handling capacity of 550,000 TEUs (20-foot-equivalent units) per year.
The port handled 7.2 million tonnes of cargo between January and March against 6.5 million in a similar period last year.
During the period, imports accounted for 6 million tonnes against 5.5 million handled in the same 2016 period, an increase of 10 percent, the Kenya Ports Authority said in a report.
It handled 877,778 tonnes in exports, up 4 percent on the 845,068 tonnes handled in the same period last year.
The Indian Ocean port of Mombasa, the biggest in east Africa and the region’s trade gateway, is seen as a measure of economic activity in the region, handling imports of fuel and consumer goods as well as exports of tea and coffee for landlocked neighbours such as Uganda and South Sudan.
Kenya holds elections in August. Voters will pick a president, parliament and local authorities on Aug. 8, and investors and consumers are taking a wait-and-see attitude due to concerns of potential violence during the polls.
The port’s management assured there would be minimum disruption to its operations due to the elections.
“We want to assure importers and exporters that all is well, we shall operate smoothly and we don’t anticipate any problems,” Hajj Masemo, a spokesman for Kenya Ports Authority, said.