Kenyan port loses regional grip in World Bank ranking

Friday, May 26th, 2023 01:00 | By
Mombasa port eyes increase in number of ships
Port of Mombasa. PD/Bernard Malonza

Fears that the Port of Mombasa could lose the battle in the competition with its peers in East Africa region are increasing after the World Bank’s latest ranking on the most efficient ports indicated that Mombasa moved down 33 places, falling behind Dar-es-Salaam, Djibouti and Berbera.

The global Container Port Performance Index (CPPI) ranked the Mombasa port at position 326 in 2022 out of the 348 ports worldwide. This represented a sharp decline compared to the 2021 performance when a similar report ranked the port at position 293.

At position 26, the Port of Djibouti emerged a cut above its peers in Sub-Saharan Africa, followed by Somalia’s Port of Berbera at 144. South Africa’s Ports Elizabeth, Durban and Cape Town ranked at 291, 340 and Cape Town 344 respectively.

Port efficiency

The ranking is based on efficiency of the Ports which is gauged by the elapsed time between when a ship reaches a port to its departure from the berth having completed its cargo exchange.

“Ships may spend extra time in a port after the departure from a berth, but the time associated with these additional activities is excluded from the CPPI, as they are not influenced by the operational performance of the terminal or port. Ships may dwell within a port’s limits for bunkering, repairs, or simply waiting in a safe area if they are unable to berth on arrival at their next port. Apart from bunkering being performed simultaneously with cargo operations, these causes of additional port time are not necessarily reflective of poor performance and hence, are excluded from the CPPI.

“Although none of these factors necessarily indicate port inefficiency, they can contribute to additional time spent in the port. For instance, clearance authorities’ delays can result in delays in the first lift and idle time after cargo operations have concluded. However, the data available do not provide enough detail to identify the root causes of such delays. It is assumed that only a small percentage of ships idle at the berth after cargo operations due to factors unrelated to port performance, and their inclusion does not significantly affect the CPPI rankings,” states the World Bank adding efficient operation of the port is key to the development of trade in the region.

Maritime industry

The CPPI further points acknowledge that there has been significant improvement in business since 2020 when the marine industry recorded reduced activities in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The declining performance by the Port of Mombasa as reflected in the World Bank report is likely to unsettle heads at the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), which has been at the centre of focus by powerful networks with close interests in Port business.

Amidst growing competition from Tanzania’s Port of Dar es Salaam which has lately continued to pose stiff competition to the Port of Mombasa, Kenya’s largest port has had to contend with the impending threat by Dar es Salaam to attract more vessels plying the East African waters into their harbour.

Despite the Port of Mombasa boasting its strategic positioning as the gateway to East and Central Africa, the new ranking by World Bank has seen the Tanzanian port leapfrog its Mombasa counterpart with an improvement from the 2021 ranking to stand at position 312 from 361 previously.

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