Kenya turned to port operator Dubai Port World (DP World) to manage Lamu Port due to a lack of capacity at the state-run Kenya Ports Authority.
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani said DP World was among port operators being explored by the government as potential private partners to run the new port.
Lamu port was launched last year following delays linked to funding shortfalls and the operalisation of the three berths.
The first berth was launched last year without completing construction and installation of equipment which saw the new port borrow equipment from Mombasa including cranes, trailers, gantries, oil spill response and marine equipment.
As a result, it has only been able to attract ships that have their gears for ship operations and Roll-on/Roll-off shipping like motor vehicle carriers as opposed to container shipping.
“For us actually the motivation (for signing an MoU with DP World) is Lamu port, we have put Sh50 billion into Lamu port from the exchequer and we do not have the capacity to run it,” CS Yatani said.
“There are other players including DP World and others who have done very well in port management so we are asking whether they can be our partners. That does not confer t them any financial gain,” he said.
Kenya has been at pains to explain the rationale behind signing a concession with DP World to undertake the development, operation, management and expansion of transport logistics services in Kenya on various components.
CS Yatani said the country has not yet committed to an agreement but a memorandum of understanding to grant private parties the right to run and operate port terminals and infrastructure such as container freight, dry ports and storage facilities.
“And there is nothing binding we are saying the future we want to collaborate not now, maybe even twenty years to come,” he said.
He said these are just merely statements of intent as they want to collaborate on logistics development working together, developing and running ports.
He said the country wants to open up Kenya’s entry into Ethiopia, South Sudan Uganda, DRC Congo and create jobs.
CS Yatani said there are no timelines for when a formal commitment will be reached as that will depend on the next administration.