With construction on the standard gauge railway linking Kenya to Uganda and Rwanda set to begin in November 2013, Kenya can be said to be moving in the right direction as far as developments in the logistics sector are concerned.
Kenya’s commitment to going forward with added efficiency and convenience in logistics has so far been admirable, with plans to expand on infrastructure to further support freighting activities, in collaboration with neighboring East African countries. One particular country, of these, stands out: Uganda.
While Kenya has previously had difficulties with Uganda regarding borders, and ownership of ‘a piece of rock’ known as Migingo Island, as far as the logistics industry is concerned, Uganda is one of our best friends. Allow me to go on about Migingo. Did you know kids formulated a dancing style called Migingo? The dance move was ridiculously hilarious considering it mimicked a fisherman casting his net and then reeling it back. But I digress.
Aside from projects that include both countries, Uganda has also been proved to paddle furiously towards becoming a supply chain management utopia by formulating a multi-pronged approach to the same.
Uganda, is seeking to bolster her logistics systems first and foremost by finding an efficient and renewable way to power her systems: generation of hydroelectric power. With plans to tap the Nile for hydroelectric power, Uganda seeks to reduce her dependence on conventional methods of producing electricity, which rely on fossil fuels such as diesel.
This in turn means that global oil prices directly affect electricity charges, by raising production costs. In eliminating this reliance, Uganda seeks not only lower power costs for her citizens: reducing the use of fossil fuels also cuts down on pollution and secures Uganda’s climate for generations to come.
Infrastructure is a likewise important consideration in internally developing a country’s logistics industry, as well as stimulating trade with neighbors. For Uganda, the roads currently connecting her to Sudan are far from sufficient, costing potential travelers unnecessary time loss. This, naturally, has deterred across the border trade, hampering the supply chain management sector from supporting functions of import and export between the two countries.
This having been noted, construction of a proper road linking the two countries has been commissioned: The Atiak-Nimule road. Upon completion, this road will, hopefully, encourage trade and tourism across the two countries’ borders, providing an ample environment for us in different functions of the logistics industry to thrive.
Infrastructural developments not only manifest as new projects, but in the revival of old initiatives as well. Uganda’s Tororo cargo train, having been out of commission for two decades, enjoyed rehabilitation to the tune of KES.5.2 billion, aimed at breathing new life into what could become a great transportation feat for the East African region.
The railway services the Northern Corridor and the East African region, easing freighting efforts to South Sudan and the Eastern DRC. The possible benefits for the logistics industry is obvious: rail transport is often cheaper, more secure and allows greater cargo shipping in quantity and weight alone, meaning a boom in freighting is almost inevitable, much to the joy of export and import supply chain managers everywhere.
Uganda also shows dedication to developing the logistics industry in legislature and politics. The Pearl of Africa and home to the Cranes has done her part in helping to synchronize important details that aid the smooth flow of goods and people across East African borders, such as allowing East African residents in and out of the country using just their national identification as “passports”.
Uganda has also stood with Kenya and Rwanda in facing accusations from neighboring Tanzania, alleging that deals made between the three nations were illegal as they did not have the support of all EAC members, and were engineered to isolate Tanzania.
While the outcome of that terse legal situation is yet to be seen, it is safe to say that Uganda has proven herself a useful and powerful ally for Kenya and we in the Kenyan logistics industry hope this remains true, for the sake of peace between both countries, as well as our bank accounts.