thiopia, Kenya, and South Sudan yesterday reiterated their commitment to a joint implementation of Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor following the commissioning of the first berth last month.
A high-level ministerial meeting was held on Monday in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa. Ethiopian Minister of Transport Dagmawit Moges said that infrastructure provision is Africa’s top priority as the continent is moving toward integration and that African states need to work together to achieve that goal.
The High-Level Regional Meeting that took place at the UN Conference Centre brought together Regional Ministers, Ambassadors, Development Banks, Senior government officials with Hon. Raila Odinga, the AU High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa leading Kenyan team leads the Kenyan Team.
Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan agreed to establish a Steering Committee for the LAPSSET corridor project. The regional framework body will see the 3 countries operate and manage these regional Infrastructure projects in a much more coordinated manner.
When Lamu port concept was conceived by a team of consultants hired by the government, six components of the project were identified. The port was mainly to serve the transit market of the two countries.
In order to become a transportation and commercial hub for the region, the consultants noted, Kenya would have to, at a minimum, develop: (a) a commercial port of international standards capable of handling high volumes of containers and other goods traffic; (b) a free trade zone along with the port to foster the growth of trade and commercial activity to make the area into a commercial hub; (c) a new beach resort city having facilities of international standards for native and international tourists; (d) an airport capable of being an air hub for the region; (e) a railway network to enable movement of goods from at the port and the free trade zone to other parts of Kenya and the countries of the region; and (f) a road highway network to support the capacity of the railway network and provide for greater movement of goods into more areas.
LAPSSET project was an immediate project for Ethiopia, which has over the years been seeking connections to more sea routes. Its direct line of sight with Addis Ababa allowed for the shortest railway link between the two cities.
Ethiopia’s dependence on imported goods had shifted 98 percent of its traffic to Djibouti port which was about 85 percent of the whole port’s traffic in 2009.
The long-term solution to the Ethiopia transport problems, which has a population of over 100 million, lay in the construction of the second port in Lamu. Indeed, Ethiopia had completed the building of a good tarmac road from Addis Ababa to Moyale quite a while ago.
For South Sudan, several options of seaports to that country left Lamu port as the most convenient route. The considerations for this choice measured several factors including security, number of borders to crossing points, nature of the terrain, length of the route, accessibility to the West and East by sea.
South Sudan was expected to export crude oil. Traditionally, it has been doing so through a pipeline currently connecting the oil fields to the Red Sea at Port Sudan, a country it was at war with for many years.
It was proposed that the pipeline be constructed alongside the railway line thus linking the oil fields to Lamu Free Port. At Lamu, some of the crude would be refined for the sub-regional market while the rest would be exported to various destinations. Single Buoy Moorings (SBM) would be put in place at the port to facilitate tanker loading in the high seas.
It was also proposed that a second pipeline going the opposite way could be constructed from the Lamu Refinery to Addis Ababa to transport oil products to Ethiopia.
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