Port of Mombasa activity declines as cargo traffic drops

The number of ships docking at the Port of Mombasa decreased by 4.5 percent to 1,561 in 2022 reflecting decreased activity in Kenya’s transport sector during the year.

The slowdown in the sector’s growth was partly on account of a decline in total cargo throughput at the Port of Mombasa by 1.9 percent to stand at 33.74 million metric tonnes in 2022.

The latest data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows that import cargo traffic went down by 2.3 percent to 26.7 million metric tonnes in the year under focus when the country’s real GDP expanded by 4.8 percent on shrinking agricultural output.

For instance, the number of motor vehicles that landed at the Port of Mombasa decreased by 21.5 percent to 99,239 units in 2022 from 126,415 units in 2021 as expensive dollar pushed potential buyers out of the markets.

The Kenya shilling has been on a losing trend since mid-2021 when it exchanged at Kes106.54 on the combination of weak inflows and strong dollar demand in the markets.

However, the volume of cargo destined for overseas markets increased by 3.4 percent to 4.77 million metric tonnes in 2022.

Across Kenya, transportation and storage industry activities decelerated to a growth of 5.6 percent in 2022 compared to a 7.4 percent uptick registered in 2021 largely on account of post-pandemic recovery.

Read also: Kenya economic growth halves on poor agriculture output

As a result of decreased activity, the consumption of light diesel went down by 0.8 percent to 2.27 million metric tonnes in 2022 compared with 2.88 million metric tonnes used the previous year.

Fuel costs in Kenya surged to record highs following a rise in international crude prices attributable to market distortions following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February 2022.

Data shows that the volume of freight transported by the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) rose by 12.6 percent to 6.09 million tonnes in 2022 from 5.407 million tonnes in 2021.

Equally, the number of passengers using the SGR, which basically plys between Nairobi and Mombasa, increased by 20.5 percent to 2.39 million last year from 1.99 million travellers recorded in 2021.

Similarly, passenger traffic by air increased by 52.2 percent to 10.2 million in 2022.

Overall, agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors contracted by 1.6 percent in 2022 compared to a contraction of 0.4 percent in 2021 mainly due to the severe drought that hit the country in the period under review.

Some of the key sectors that supported Kenya’s growth were financial and insurance (12.8 percent), information and communication (9.9 percent), and transportation and storage (5.6 percent).

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