Kenya launches Lamu Port project
Lamu Port for South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor project, located in Mombasa, was officially launched this month by the president of South Sudan, the president of Kenya and the prime minister of Ethiopia.
LAPSSET is a joint venture between the Republic of South Sudan, Republic of Kenya and the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.
LAPSSET is one of Africa’s most ambitious infrastructure and economic development project. It consists of four major transport infrastructure components namely the highway, railway, oil pipelines and three airports. A new transport corridor will be constructed from Lamu port to Isiolo where it branches off through Marsabit and Moyale to Ethiopia and another branch from Isiolo through Lodwar and Lokichoggio to South Sudan. Lamu port is positioned as an important transhipment hub poised to handle crude oil and oil products from the Republic of South Sudan.
The aim is for Lamu port to provide an outlet for oil exports from the newly independent country of South Sudan, and perhaps for future oil from Uganda. This would allow for cheaper imports to Ethiopia and South Sudan, greater revenue for Kenya, and it could eventually benefit Rwanda and central African countries too. Investment could be provided by China, a major customer for South Sudan’s oil.
The 32-berth port would ultimately become the biggest port on Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast, five times bigger than Mombasa, the only existing port. It would be the terminus of a new railway and oil pipeline from South Sudan, allowing the new country to escape the economic domination of Sudan. The two countries have been embroiled in a battle over oil exports, with Juba accusing Khartoum of hijacking oil from the south as it passes through Sudan on its way to a Red Sea port that Sudan controls.
However, while the Lamu port project has many advantages, it remains surrounded by ifs and buts, largely owing to rivalries in the East African region. Unfortunately, several of its logical beneficiaries – including Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda – failed to show up to the ground-breaking ceremony.
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