Kenya and Djibouti are currently at war over business in Ethiopia after the country recently launched the first berth of the Lamu Port.
East African Community and Regional Development Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohammed is well aware that Djibouti port poses a great challenge to the success of the newly commissioned port because of its close proximity to Ethiopia.
In response, CS Adan Mohammed on Thursday, May 27, said a team of experts had been assembled to market Lamu in Ethiopia with an aim of raiding Djibouti’s business
“The team will aggressively market Lamu in Ethiopia. We are keen to get the Southern Ethiopian market. We know the threat posed by Djibouti,” said Adan.
Reports indicate that the Government was also open to allow major global powers to establish military bases in Lamu just like the case in Djibouti. France, US, China, Germany and Italy have all established military bases in Djibouti while in Lamu, the US has a small military base at Manda.
Djibouti has been able to attract both cargo and military bases because it is located between Somalia, Eritrea, and Yemen. It is also located near the Bab el Mandab Strait, which connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden, is a critical corridor for international shipping.
On the other hand, Lamu is disadvantaged in the quest to attract cargo from Addis because of distance with reports indicating that over 90 per cent of goods to landlocked Ethiopia pass through Djibouti; “It is about 900 kilometers from Djibouti Port to Addis Ababa compared to 1,279 kilometers from Lamu Port,” said Adan.
Government of Kenya had also prioritised the construction of the roads and currently, the road from Lamu to Garsen is complete, Garsen-Hole-Garissa road is about 83 per cent complete and Garissa to Modogashe is also complete.
Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohammed added that the road from Modogashe to Isiolo was yet to start but it will start soon while that of Isiolo to Moyale is complete adding that Kenya and Ethiopia have already established a common border post at Moyale.
“We want to attract big ships (Panamax ships) to drop cargo in Lamu before small ships transport it to Mombasa, Dar, Salala and Somali ports. Very many shipping lines have shown interest to use Lamu,” he said.
This means that Kenya is focusing on the transshipment business putting it in direct competition with the ports of Djibouti and Durban in South Africa.