Friday, August 17, 2018

Container Line MSC to Breathe Life Into National Shipping Company

Swiss Group Eyes East African Development
Shipping News Feature
KENYA – Just as rival box line Hapag Lloyd has revealed it is developing services to and from East Africa, another container giant, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), has agreed with the Kenyan Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure to revive the fortunes of the Kenya National Shipping Line (KNSL) in a country where trade is blossoming with GDP rising by around 6% in the wake of a good harvest and settled political climate following last year's elections.

Last year saw the opening of a new rail connection between the capital Nairobi and the port city of Mombasa, an infrastructure development 90% funded by the Chinese and giving better and faster access for rail freight. The line is the first completed phase of a development planned to stretch right through to Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan and cuts the journey time for freight trains between the two key Kenyan locations to 8 hours.

The infrastructure development is part of the Kenya Vision 2030 project, and now the Swiss group and the Kenyan government have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) agreeing to collaborate on improving the fortunes of KNSL, first established in 1987 as the national carrier for seaborne trade, but which has subsequently witnessed years of mismanagement leading to its near collapse, thus necessitating the current proactive efforts to restart its operations.

In reviving KNSL through the partnership with MSC, KNSL is expected to once again become an active participant in international seaborne trade which accounts for a significant percentage of Kenya’s total trade. Speaking during the signing ceremony at State House, Nairobi, President Kenyatta said the revival of the shipping line was a priority for Kenya because it will create jobs for thousands Kenyans. He added:

“We are very keen to revive the shipping line. And we are confident that we can run the shipping line again. This is a valued partnership between Kenya and the private sector. I look forward to launching the shipping line soon.”

The revival of the shipping line, along with the upgrading of Bandari College into a centre of excellence for maritime studies which was approved by the Kenyan Cabinet this week, is designed to transform Mombasa into a key transhipment hub in the region and is a huge boost to the ongoing efforts to mainstream blue economy as an important economic activity in a country with huge potential for both import and export trade.

Photo: Giovanni Cuomo, Vice President of MSC, and James Macharia, Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary, overseen by President Kenyatta.