PUBLISHED ON May 16th, 2024

Big win for Kenya as Ethiopia imports fertiliser through Lamu Port

The Ethiopian government has received the first shipment of 60,000 tonnes of fertiliser imported through the Port of Lamu from Morocco.

This is the first time Ethiopia is importing cargo through Lamu Port since its operationalisation three years ago.

In the past few months, a delegation from Ethiopia has been assessing the viability of Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transit (Lapsset) corridor.

For many years, Ethiopia has been mainly using the Port of Djibouti and Mombasa.

On Saturday, an Ethiopian ship, MV Abbay II, started offloading the 60,000 tonnes of bulk fertiliser.

Kenya Ports Authority managing director William Ruto said this is the largest consignment of bulk fertiliser to have docked in Kenya.

“Indeed, this is a testament to many years of planning, dedication and hard work towards positioning the Port of Lamu as a logistics hub in the region,” he said.

The fertiliser was bagged at the port, before being loaded on the waiting trucks for transportation to Ethiopia.

“We are thankful and believe this is the first of the many vessels carrying Ethiopian bound cargo that we shall handle going forward,” Ruto said.

Ethiopia’s Minister of Agriculture Girma Amante said the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transit Corridor is a transformative project critical for Africa’s ambition to establish a continental free trade area, as it supports the free movement of goods, services and people across the borders.

“Ethiopia is one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa, given the size of its population, as the second most populous country in Africa. Therefore, it is a necessity to diversify our access to the seaports,” Amante said.

In the last three years, Ethiopia has achieved agricultural Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of six per cent annually and consequently, there has been an increase in the volume of imports of agricultural input.

“To take fertiliser as an example, last season we imported 1.3 million tonnes of fertiliser, whereas this season it has increased to 1.94 million tonnes, which is an increase of 50 per cent,” he said.

The docking of the Ethiopian vessel in Lamu Port carrying fertiliser for the southern part of Ethiopia will have a significant impact on timely delivery to their farmers.

“As this is the first test operation, we have to closely support the process and document the lessons to improve and optimise our upcoming operations. We have to do our level best to make the logistics operation of the corridor feasible and cost-effective,” he said.

Ethiopia’s Transport and Logistics minister Dange Boru said the completion of the Lapsset corridor will facilitate movement of goods, reduce transportation costs and attract investment for both Kenya and Ethiopia.

“Our region will witness industrial growth, job creation and improved livelihoods by utilising this corridor,” he said.

Lappset Corridor Development Authority director general Stephen Ikua said importation of Ethiopian cargo through Lamu Port is a realisation of the dream intended by the governments of Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan.

“We have been bedeviled by a number of problems that can only be resolved if we have these kinds of projects. The three governments did it more than ten years ago and it has taken us a decade to realise it,” he said.

Ikua said he will work around the clock to ensure the cargo is delivered on time.

“We have no excuse, apart from working on the corridor and other facilities to have a smooth movement. And as we say, this is a test and we want to go down on a checklist and deal with all the issues that will emerge,” he said.

Lamu Governor Issa Timamy described the port as a game changer.

“It is up to us, residents, to take advantage of the opportunities that will come with this port to prosper economically,” he said.

Timamy said the Lapsset road connecting Lamu to Ethiopia through Ijara, Garissa, onwards to Isiolo and to Moyale, should be fast-tracked.

“It is our prayer that the road is completed on time to efficiently transport goods to Ethiopia,” he said.

Some of the 60,000 tonnes of fertiliser at the Lamu Port on Saturday.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TradeMark Africa.