In Summary
  • It is in our strategic interests to dominate seaports, develop waterway links and build high quality of transport networks of internal terminals.

  • When we build big infrastructure projects that connect us with the major economies of East Africa, we must look and debate permanent interests and geostrategic significance.

  • We are at a point where we must start discussing whether our long term future lies in opening up of new transport corridors between us and South Sudan and Ethiopia.

Kisumu is in the news. It is the sign of the parlous state of public debate among the political elite that a section of our leaders want us to look at the pros and cons of the new container port in parochial terms — insisting that it is all part of goodies coming out of the handshake deal between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Raila Odinga.

CLOAK AND DAGGER

As a society, we are suffering from a major crisis of vision among our leaders. The people we elect have no sense of ambition and are incapable of seeing what is in the country’s regional strategic interests.

In my view, the Kisumu project must be seen — first and foremost, an ambition by Kenya at securing hinterland accessibility to the port of Mombasa. Even though we don’t usually admit it, we are permanently engaged in a cloak-and-dagger game with our East African neighbours over economic dominance.

Just the other day, the Ugandans decided to route oil pipeline through Tanzania, instead of Kenya. It was shortly followed by the decision by Kigali to develop a railway link through Dar-es-Salaam port, instead of Mombasa.

When you look at the situation and trends closely, it seems that our East African Community partners have just been stirring us along, while constantly jostling for tactical advantage over us in an endless game over economic dominance of the region.

In the case of Uganda’s crude pipeline, Kampala argued that land compensation costs in Kenya were too high and were likely to push the cost of the construction of the pipeline too high.

Kampala also invoked the issue of insecurity on the route to the coast of Kenya. This, despite the fact that we offered to allow the Ugandans to build their crude along Kenya Pipeline Company’s existing way leave, which would not attract additional costs.

The Ugandans also ignored the fact that KPC had been operating an oil pipeline on this route for more than 30 years without any major security breaches.

The point here is this: That in the context of the battle over geostrategic significance between the three major economies in East Africa, the thinking behind the commercial port in Kisumu makes a great deal of sense.

DOMINATE SEAPORTS

It is in our strategic interests to dominate seaports, develop waterway links and build high quality of transport networks of internal terminals.

When we build big infrastructure projects that connect us with the major economies of East Africa, we must look and debate permanent interests and geostrategic significance.

We are at a point where we must start discussing whether our long term future lies in opening up of new transport corridors between us and South Sudan and Ethiopia.

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