Uganda is looking at ways to reduce its dependency on Kenya for petroleum imports by resuming exports through Tanzania. The country accounts for around three-quarters of the transit cargo at Kenyan Mombasa port, and any decrease in exports might exacerbate the facility’s struggles to compete with Tanzania’s Indian Ocean ports of Dar es Salaam and Tanga.
Last week, Uganda Railways Corp. began a trial transport of 500,000 litres of petroleum products across Lake Victoria, resuming shipments after a 16-year hiatus, according to Acting Managing Director Stephen Wakasenza. The fuel arrived in Dar es Salaam and was transported by train to Mwanza port, then to Uganda, passing across the world’s second-largest freshwater lake.
He said: “We are comfortable with Mombasa, but as a country we need an alternative route for strategic reasons,” Wakasenza said. “We are targeting oil because it is a product used daily.”
According to John Friday, the assistant commissioner for petroleum supplies, Uganda consumes roughly 185 million litres of petroleum products every month, most of which is trucked through Kenya. URC plans to import 10-20 million gallons per month on both routes, with a capacity of 40 million litres once additional waggons are imported.
He claimed the state-owned enterprise has a vessel capable of hauling 880 tonnes and making ten (10) voyages every month, with a second vessel under repair. It will also rely on a Kenyan-owned boat and Tanzania-registered Umoja to supply roughly 4-6 million litres per month.
South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Tanzania are all served by Mombasa. The region’s overdependence on the Kenyan port was highlighted in 2007 when post-election violence in East Africa’s largest economy disrupted supply chains to landlocked countries.