High Court Stops Kenyan Mega-Port

LAPSSETKenya’s high court on Friday ordered a halt to the long-delayed development of a mega-port on the country’s northern coast for at least two weeks to allow a lawsuit lodged by local landowners over compensation to move forward.

The $25.5 billion project, known as the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) project, would eventually link landlocked countries South Sudan and Ethiopia to the Indian Ocean via Kenya and include a port, new roads, a railway and a pipeline.

The LAPSSET project involves the development of a new transport corridor from the new port of Lamu through Garissa, Isiolo, Mararal, Lodwar and Lokichoggio to branch at Isiolo to Ethiopia and Southern Sudan. It will comprise of a new road network, a railway line, oil refinery at Lamu, oil pipeline, Isiolo and Lamu Airports and a free port at Lamu (Manda Bay) in addition to resort cities at the coast and in Isiolo. It will be the backbone for opening up Northern Kenya and integrating it into the national economy.

It was first conceived in the 1970s but has been gaining traction after commercial oil finds in Uganda and Kenya.

Judge Oscar Angote suspended the project and said the land compensation case would be heard on 8 December 2014. Source: Maritime Executive

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WCO Capacity Building visit to the youngest country in the world

Capacity Building visit to South Sudan - SARS' representative Fanie Versveld (right).

Capacity Building visit to South Sudan – SARS’ representative Fanie Versveld (right).

End of November to beginning of December 2013, following a request from the then Customs Director-General, a small WCO expert team travelled to South Sudan to undertake a Phase 1 Diagnostic Mission under the auspices of the WCO Columbus Programme. The needs analysis was conducted by a colleague of the WCO Capacity Building Directorate along with an expert from the South African Revenue Service.

South Sudan gained its independence as recently as July 2011 and is still the youngest country in the world. Until recently it was also the newest Member country of the WCO.

It was during the course of the visit that the WCO team learnt that the Customs Director General had been replaced. A meeting was held with the new Director General and after outlining the work of the WCO and the purpose and benefit of its Capacity Building Programme it was agreed that the mission should proceed as planned.

The diagnostic team visited the Customs Headquarter in the capital city of Juba, Juba International Airport and Nimule Border Crossing Point on the border with Uganda. The team had the opportunity to meet and speak with a wide variety of motivated people from within the South Sudan Customs Service and also held informative discussions with a number of key stakeholders from the public sector, trade representatives and donor agencies.

The South Sudan Customs Service is just starting out on the road of Reform and Modernization. The diagnostic team made a series of recommendations that will help them in this regard but also identified some “quick win” activities that will assist them in building organisational confidence and commitment to the whole development process. The WCO looks forward to working with the South Sudan Customs Service again in the near future. Source: WCO

 

China hopes to dominate Africa by boosting trade via Indian Ocean

EastAfricaMapPeople’s Republic of China (PRC) officials are becoming increasingly apprehensive about the rise in the use of the westward corridor to export oil, diamonds, and rare minerals out of South Sudan and the Central African Republic via Cameroon. In other words, this creates a flow to Atlantic sea and air transportation routes, rather than routes eastward to Indian Ocean trade routes. Beijing is also concerned over the growing tension between Sudan and its neighbors – particularly South Sudan – because of the impact this might have on the PRC’s long-term designs to dominate Africa’s resources trade.

A key component of the Chinese long-term strategy has long been to converge all the flow of oil, gas, and minerals to a single export point on the shores of the Indian Ocean; that is, in the direction of China. This vision is getting closer to realization given the progress made toward beginning construction of the maritime complex in Lamu on the northern Kenyan shores of the Indian Ocean. The Lamu mega-port and adjacent industrial and transportation complexes are a major element of the Kenyan Government’s Vision 2030 initiative. Lamu is the key to the long-needed modernization of Kenya’s deteriorating infrastructure and boosting of economic output.

Although Nairobi keeps insisting that there will be international tenders for each and every phase of the Lamu project, the overall design in fact follows Beijing’s proposal, and Nairobi acknowledges that no international consortium has so far been able to remotely compete with the financial guarantees offered by official Beijing in support for proposals presented by Chinese entrants. This is because Beijing considers the Lamu mega-port and transportation complex to be the key to the PRC’s long term domination over African trade and resources.

The initial costs of the first phase of the Lamu project are estimated at $25.5-billion. The name of this first phase – the Lamu Port and New Transport Corridor Development to Southern Sudan and Ethiopia (LAPSSET) – points to the initial objectives. Significantly, the term used is “Southern Sudan” and not the state of South Sudan. When completed, the first phase of the Lamu complex will include a 32-berth port, three international airports, and a 1,500km railway line. As well, the Chinese plan oil pipelines from Juba in South Sudan, and from Addis Ababa via Moyale, Kenya, to converge into Kenya’s Eastern Province and end in a new huge oil refinery in Bargoni, near Lamu. The entire construction and pipelines will be supported by a 1,730km road network. In the longer term, the trans-African pipelines the Chinese plan on building from both Nigeria in the west and south-western Africa (most likely Angola) will also feed into the Lamu complex, thus giving the PRC effective control over the main hydrocarbon exports of Africa.

The strategic cooperation between Beijing and Khartoum constitutes the key to the Chinese confidence that their Sudanese allies be able to contain their Somali jihadist proxies so that the risk of terrorist attacks is minimal. Simply put, Beijing is ready to do anything just to ensure the flow of oil eastwards rather than westwards.

Ultimately, the significance of the Chinese long-term grand design for Africa can be best comprehended in the context of historic transformation in the grand strategy and polity of the PRC. Beijing has been arguing since the fall of the Soviet Union that the decline of the United States was also inevitable and that China was destined to rise as the global hegemon. Presently, Beijing is convinced that the time is ripe for delivering the coup de grace.

On October 13, 2013, the official Xinhua news agency published an official commentary stating that “it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world”. The commentary surveyed the “abuse” the entire world had suffered under US hegemony since World War II. The situation had only aggravated since the end of the Cold War, Xinhua argued. “Instead of honoring its duties as a responsible leading power, a self-serving Washington has abused its superpower status and introduced even more chaos into the world by shifting financial risks overseas.” To further its own unbridled ambitions, the US stoked “regional tensions amid territorial disputes, and fighting unwarranted wars under the cover of outright lies”, Xinhua explained.

The Xinhua commentary warned that with US society and economy collapsing, Washington was now tempted to intensify the abuse of the rest of the world in order to save the US. “Such alarming days when the destinies of others are in the hands of a hypocritical nation have to be terminated. A new world order should be put in place, according to which all nations, big or small, poor or rich, can have their key interests respected and protected on an equal footing.” Xinhua concluded by suggesting that the PRC, being inherently a developing country, is the rising power best suited to lead this global transformation and de-Americanization.

Beijing has long recognized that any confrontation with the US would inevitably lead to major economic crises, a series of conflicts world-wide and possibly a global war against the US. To sustain this global conflict, the PRC would need huge quantities of hydrocarbons, rare metals, other natural resources and even agricultural products; and these could only be secured for it as a result of a China-dominated Africa. Source: http://www.tralac.org 

Uganda says it’s time to talk in Africa

Africa-mombasa-mct-aerial

Port of Mombasa (Credit – Port Strategy)

Not for the first time a landlocked country in Africa is attempting to have a say in a remote port operation which functions as a major gateway for its import and export trade. This time it is Uganda proposing that it has a say in the management of Kenya’s major port, the port of Mombasa. In the recent past it was Ethiopia attempting to secure a dedicated terminal in Djibouti.

The Ugandan initiative surfaced at a recent ‘Validation Workshop on Uganda’s Position on the Single Customs Territory for the East African Community. The Permanent Secretary Ministry of EAC Affairs, Edith Mwanje said that Uganda should have a say in the management of gateway ports because of “the many delays that negatively impacted trade”. Ugandan cargo accounts for the largest body of traffic handled by the port of Mombasa for the landlocked countries surrounding Kenya.

It is unlikely, of course, that any country will give up even partial control of a national asset to another country. It is akin to relinquishing sovereignty in the minds of countries owning port assets and being asked to participate in some form of power sharing. Djibouti fought hard to prevent Ethiopian Shipping Lines gaining control of dedicated terminal assets in the old port of Djibouti and won this battle. It is very unlikely that Kenya will even consider the idea of a foreign power participating in the management of its number one port.

It may, however, be a wise course of action for countries such as Djibouti and Kenya to consider establishing some sort of regular stakeholder dialogue. This is the path to a long and sustainable relationship as opposed to a short opportunistic one.

It is known, for example, that in the past Ethiopia has been frustrated by the high price of gateway container and general cargo operations in Djibouti and this has led to tensions. Since these days, however, Djibouti has put considerable effort into having a sensible dialogue with Ethiopia and this has matured into new projects such as the signing of an agreement with Ethiopia and Djibouti to build an oil pipeline that will reduce South Sudan’s dependence on crude shipments via neighbouring Sudan, and plans for a $2.6bn liquefied natural gas terminal in Djibouti, including a liquefaction plant and a pipeline, that will enable the export of 10m cubic meters of gas from Ethiopia to China annually from 2016.

Source and Picture credit: Portstrategy.com

South Sudan: The roles of Commerce and Customs

The newly formed state of South Sudan, demonstrates a painful understanding of trade and customs. Evidently this is the product of political thinking, or poor journalism, or zero understanding of economics and administration. I wonder what Customs role really is?

The Director General of Trade in the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Stephen Matatia said that his office is not for collecting tax revenue but only for imposing penalties on those who break the law and order. He said it is the Customs Service staff who have the responsibility of collection revenues. The ministry of Commerce staff are only there to collect the penalties from those traders who break the laws and orders of the land related to trade and commerce. He said their other function is the imposition of laws on prohibited goods.

Staff of ministry of Commerce stationed in Nimule border checkpoint report to headquarters in Juba every 15 days to present comprehensive report on their duties. He said the Ministry is preparing to open more offices in other parts of Greater equatorial and in Greater Upper Nile in the border with Ethiopia.In Western Equatoria, Greater Bahr Ghazal, Unity State, bordering with Sudan, Central Africa Republic, Congo, will need offices,” he declared. Matatia observed that in some countries of Africa a lot of ministries of commerce are being classified together with industry thus they have ministries for industry, commerce, supply and cooperatives. Source: AllAfrica.com