Kenya has inaugurated the first part of a new container terminal at the coastal town of Mombasa.
The terminal which was opened over the weekend, is expected to boost cargo volumes handled by East Africa’s largest port by 50%.
It can handle 550,000 twenty foot equivalent units (TEUs) per year and will ramp up Mombasa’s existing annual cargo handling capacity from the current 1.05 million TEUs to 1.6 million TEUs.
“In five years’ time, we expect to have hit 2.5 million TEUs after completing the second phase,” Kenya’s finance minister, Henry Rotich, said during the ceremony.
A bigger cargo capacity for Mombasa is crucial because of the recent discovery of oil and gas in the region.
Mombasa port is the gateway to east Africa and funnels imports of fuel and consumer goods as well as exports of commodities like tea from land locked Kenyan neighbours ,Uganda and Rwanda.
Construction of the the $ 296.74 million terminal began in March 2012 and was completed in February this year.
It has been financed by a loan from Japan’s development agency Japan International Cooperation agency (JICA) and Kenya will repay the loan over a period of 40 years.
Rotich added that the government has signed an agreement with JICA for credit worth 32 billion shillings for the construction of the second phase.