| MOMBASA, Sept 3
MOMBASA, Sept 3 Kenya on Saturday inaugurated
the first part of a new container terminal at Mombasa which is
expected to boost by 50 percent the volume of cargo handled by
East Africa's largest seaport.
Construction of the 30 billion shilling ($296.74
million)terminal began in March 2012 and was completed in
February this year.
The project was financed by a loan from Japan through the
Japan International cooperation agency (JICA), and Kenya will
repay the loan over a 40-year period.
A gateway to East and Central Africa, the Indian Ocean port
funnels imports of fuel and consumer goods as well as exports of
tea and coffee from landlocked neighbours such as Uganda and
President Uhuru Kenyatta, who opened the facility, said the
terminal heralded "a whole new era in the development of our
ports and facilitation of the region's international trade".
A bigger cargo capacity for Mombasa was crucial because of
the discovery of oil and gas in the region, he said.
British explorer Tullow Oil and partner Africa Oil
discovered oil in Lokichar in northwest Kenya in 2012.
Recoverable reserves are an estimated 750 million barrels of
crude and commercial production is expected to commence in 2017.
Uganda also has confirmed crude reserves while Kenya's other
neighbour Tanzania has huge gas discoveries.
The new terminal can handle 550,000 twenty foot equivalent
units (TEUs) per year and will ramp up Mombasa's existing annual
cargo handling capacity from 1.05 million TEUs to 1.6 million
"In five years' time, we expect to have hit 2.5 million TEUs
after completing the second phase," Kenya's finance minister,
Henry Rotich, said.
He added the country had already signed an agreement with
JICA for credit worth 32 billion shillings to fund construction
of the new terminal's second part.
1 = 101.1000 Kenyan shillings)
(Editing by Elias Biryabarema and Angus MacSwan)