So many dreams has Rwanda dreamt and most if not all come true, from the trucks piled with dead bodies off for mass burial 25 years ago to same trucks carrying goods to an inland port is a magical transformation of a country once regarded as a land of hopelessness.
Almost nine years ago, as Government pondered over efforts to eliminate barriers within the logistics value chain mainly upped by the country’s land lockedness, the need for an inland port popped up. In 2011, Dubai Ports World came with the solution.
This, thus saw the development of Kigali Logistics Platform, a Public Private Partnership with DP World and Government that spelled out the development of an inland port under a 25 year concession.
Accordingly, DP world, Dubai-based global logistics company under the stewardship of Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem its CEO, was flagged of f to construct a dry port facility , which despite a couple of years in pipeline has built the country’s momentum to grow into a regional logistics hub.
While inaugurating the inland port at Masaka in Kigali on Monday October 21, President Paul Kagame said the dry port will facilitate trade across Africa; mainly movement of goods under the recent formed African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
“We are very happy to see that it has materialized. We are also happy to be associated with DP World, a partner in the development of the inland dry port which is already easing trade,” The President said.
The inauguration was for the first phase which started its operations in September this year and costed $35m on a 130, 000 square metres with a 12, 000 square metre for container year and 19, 600 square metre for warehousing facility. The government will further support the expansion phases for the port.
The port is expected to deploy smart technologies that ease monitoring and tracking of goods. The first phase will handle 50, 000 containers at once with reduction in delays of goods in transit from 14 days to 3 days.
“This is a high-tech operation that offers real time cargo tracking for customers and I congratulate DP world on completing this first phase which has already demonstrated significant reduction in truck turnaround time,” He added.
In a bid to grow into a knowledge driven economy, Rwanda looked at many options and building a regional logistics hub was among the priorities, as experts say that the inland port is expected to bolster movement of goods and curtail the logistics expenses that is grappling the region.
As Africa closes gaps of fewer intra trade deals through the AfCFTA, which removes borders on the continent with trade expected to commence in July, there is optimism that trade and integration will be realised.
“Trade agreement and economic policies won’t have much impact without actual infrastructure. With the launch of this facility, Rwanda is doing its part to connect with the larger market of about 1.2 bn consumers in Africa and beyond,” The President said.
According to several surveys done within East Africa, it was found out that logistics cost add up to 40 percent of the cost of a good making it expensive.
“We need to make this work and reduce the cost of trade. We see Rwanda as the gateway to the heart of Africa,” said Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, CEO, DP World adding that the country is positioned to be a lead in logistics for the region.
The port is seen, before the expectations of traders mainly importers as a solution to high costs in logistics mainly warehouse costs. Most of them, especially those with transit goods to Central Africa like DRC will find a relief to have their goods stored safely.
“There is at times a container delays at Mombasa for example and scarcity of warehouses pushes the storage prices high, of course this eats into our profit margins,” said Jean Claude Sekamana.
Locally, the inland port is also another step to facilitate government’s efforts to create employment mainly for the youth which under its long term strategy plans to create 200,000 jobs every year .