News / Africa

Tanzania, Kenya Compete for Trade with Landlocked Neighbors

A crane arranges containers at the Port of Zanzibar on the island of Zanzibar, July 19, 2012.
A crane arranges containers at the Port of Zanzibar on the island of Zanzibar, July 19, 2012.
Tanzania is giving Kenya stiff competition in building trade with their landlocked East African neighbors, as business people in the region complain about deficiencies with Kenya’s port at Mombasa.  The effort by Tanzania has prompted Kenya’s newly elected president to move quickly in response. 

Access to the ocean gives Kenya and Tanzania a big trade advantage over their neighbors Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, and the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which all have to transit goods through the Indian Ocean ports of Mombasa, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Importers in landlocked countries like Uganda and Rwanda have openly spoken about their frustration with the ports and the high cost of transporting goods across regional borders.

According to a new report published by the World Bank, Tanzania and Kenya could boost their annual gross domestic product by up to $1.8 billion and $830 million respectively by taking measures to improve the efficiency of the ports.

In recent months Tanzania has worked especially hard to improve its game in the competition for the regional import market.

Everest Kayondo, head of Kampala City Traders Association, said Tanzania is offering enticing incentives to Ugandan businesses, including tax breaks for goods transported by road.

“It [Tanzania] has come up with some attractive measures like not asking bonds for our goods if they are ferried by train, so they are saying it will do it as if it’s a domestic cargo,” said Kayondo.

However, Weru Macharia, an independent foreign relations analyst in Nairobi, said the Tanzanian tax incentives will be useless if the country does not improve its road system.

“So I think it’s a good move from Tanzania and its going to be advantageous to the Ugandan businessmen but I think Kenya may also follow the same route,  So it depends now on how or who is going to be much more attractive because if you levy the taxes of the day then you also have to have proper and good infrastructure,” said Macharia.

Road construction

In an effort to encourage businesses in landlocked countries to use roads to transport their goods to the sea, the Tanzanian government has finished constructing a new road from Dar es Salaam on the coast to Mutukula on the border with Uganda.

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta prepares to inspect a guard of honor in Nairobi, April 16, 2013.Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta prepares to inspect a guard of honor in Nairobi, April 16, 2013.
x
Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta prepares to inspect a guard of honor in Nairobi, April 16, 2013.
Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta prepares to inspect a guard of honor in Nairobi, April 16, 2013.
Last month, newly-elected Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta reacted by visiting Uganda and Burundi to convince their leaders his country is also ready to improve its port and make other offers to encourage trade.

Everest Kayondo of the Kampala City Traders said each country will act in its own self-interest.

“Kenya, they will accept a policy as long as it favors them but the moment it’s not conducive to their business community they will sort of block it,” said Kayondo.

Analyst Weru Macharia argues Kenya is behaving that way because it feels it has leverage, but with Tanzania coming on strongly things might change.

“The complaints may be valid, but you don’t expect any country to be humanitarian in terms of trade and commerce.  So its upon them to see Tanzania coming in and there may be more at stake for Kenya, which might probably be more flexible in terms of dealing with Ugandan businessmen,” said Macharia.

In May, the World Trade Organization (WTO) director-general, on his visit to the region, said East African governments must improve their roads, ports and trade procedures if the region is to reach its full economic potential.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs