Friday, 13 September 2013

Turkana County's Swoosh

A prototype of Proposed Turkana Resort City
 PICTURETHIS. An investor figures that wind, an abundant resource in an arid, windswept area can be tapped to generate 300MW of power. Then an oil explorer goes to the same difficult area tom prospect for oil. Both "adventurers” probably carry water in their back packs for it is a rare commodity in the land. 

Oil is also discovered in the same God forsaken area. Before long, another adventurer discovers that the area holds billions of liters of fresh water in its bowels. This is the story of Turkana country in the arid northern Kenya.

 In less than a decade, Turkana has been tr5ansformed from a low potential to a high potential economic zone. Words fail me. But the transformation can only be described as Swoosh! Well OK let's call it Turkana Swoosh!

Tourist attractions around Lake Turkana
Turkana was such an outback of the Kenya that  a feasibility study on the Railway Line linking South Sudan with Kenya, rated the EIRR  the section along Turkana as Zero. The study justified investment in the Rail on this section owing to the potential elsewhere.

In fact, the study recommended the development of a resort city in the region in order to create jobs for the local population. In 2004/5 the only viable economic resource in this area was Tourism along Lake Turkana.
The Lake Turkana resort city will be located at Eliye springs, on the shores of Lake Turkana. Lake Turkana hosts three National parks namely: Sibiloi, Central Island and Southern island national parks. That is why a resort city was recommended.

The Choice of Loiyangalani, on the South east of Lake Turkana as the site of Africa’s largest wind power farm began to change the perception of Turkana country. Then Last year Oil was discovered. Within a swoosh, its commercial viability was confirmed and within a swoosh the quantity estimates rose from 2500 barrels per well to a total of over 300 million barrels in just about a year. And they are still counting.
And now some 200 billion cubic meters of water, enough to serve Kenyans for 70 years, has been discovered. So Turkana is now becoming famous for mega finds which have catapulted it to the king pin of Kenya’s economic growth.

Initially, Lapsset, it was estimated would contribute 3 per cent to Kenya's GDP growth. That was before oil was discovered In Turkana County. Rumour is circulating that oil would add another 2.5 per cent to Kenya's GDP. That was before water was discovered in Turkana.  Turkana, famous for mega projects, could soon displace Nairobi as a mega country-the richest in the country.

That is a mouthwatering prospect. Kenya is excited. Some ambitious people, hoping to become oil sheikhs, I hear, are considering ditching Kenyan cities for Turkana. I hear some are considering trading their posh SUVs for the Carmel.

Want free advice? Turkana is a high potential area. Soon millions will be minted there. All projects, proposed in the LAPSSET corridor are now high return projects. It is not clear yet what are the estimates for Turkana resort city located at Eliye springs, on the shores of Lake Turkana, will cost more or less the same amount developed on the same terms as Isiolo city. Lake Turkana hosts three National parks namely: Sibiloi, Central Island and Southern island national parks. Loiyangalani the site of Africa’s largest wind power farm is located within to the South east of Lake Turkana.

So jump into any that suits your fancy. Build homes, Hotels, Roads, Railway lines. Even airports will soon be viable ventures.

Pack your bags now! Tomorrow may be too late.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

EAC: Tanzania still fighting ghosts of fear?

Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete: Tanzania President
LAST YEAR, this publication ran a harsh criticism of Tanzania’s laggard stance on integration in east Africa. Tanzanians reacted with angst, many shouting aloud that Kenyans will not be allowed to own land in Tanzania. Read 

Now, the chickens, it seems, are coming home to roost. Events in the last two months vindicate my thesis, harsh as it was. Tanzania is slowly sliding to irrelevance in East Africa Common Market bloc- and further, stymying their country. In its place, “the northern wing,” is taking the lead. 

 The northern wing refers to countries that are members of the Northern transport Corridor. It all began with a meeting of the three Ks in east Africa in July. Presidents Kaguta Museveni, Paul Kagame and Uhuru Kenyatta met in Kampala to talk business. Tanzania was at the time hosting US President Barack Obama and therefore was not in the meeting.

 Many an arm-chair analysts dismissed that meeting as a “sour grapes” summit by Presidents shunned by the US President. They were wrong! The three Ks were talking serious business and the world took note. First they agreed to build a 2937 KM standard gauge Railway line from the Port of Mombasa in Kenya to Kigali in Rwanda through Uganda of course. The project will cost an estimated US$13.5 billion. Read

 Weeks later, Kenya Ports Authority opened a representative office in Kigali, while Uganda was allowed to open its customs office in Mombasa Port and collect her taxes from there. A week ago, the three Ks this time around joined by senior representations from, Burundi and South Sudan met in Mombasa to launch the 200,000TEUs berth 19 at the Port. Mombasa is being upgraded into mega port whose cargo handling capacity will rise to 2.1 million TEUs in 2016. This capacity will consign the Port of Dar-Es-salaam to oblivion. This is what we meant by Tanzania is losing out on the opportunities open in the bloc.

 By the time of the Mombasa meeting, China had loaned Kenya a whopping US$5billion a large chunk of which - US$3.75 billion – will fund the construction of the railway line. Work is expected to begin in November, when the EAC heads of state will hold their Summit in Arusha. 

Mombasa Prot: Great threat to Dar Port
 It could be argued –and rightly so-that the meeting involved stake holders of the Northern transport Corridor. This corridor stretches from the Mombasa Port in Kenya to Bujumbura in Burundi. Sudan and Ethiopia are linking to the Northern Corridor. South Sudan will be connected by a 900KM road from Eldoret, Kenya to Nadapal, South Sudan. Ethiopia will be connected to Kenya by a road under Construction from Isiolo Kenya (Read

 Tanzania is not on this corridor and therefore could be rightly left out. However, the Port of Dar-es-salaam is an alternative sea route to several landlocked countries that such as Burundi, D R Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. The expansion of the Mombasa Port, coupled with the construction of the railway line poses a great danger to the Dar-Es-salaam Port. Four of the seven landlocked countries that use Dar are members of the Northern Corridor. Since these have also been roped in the “Mombasa- Kigali express,” they threaten business at the Dar Port. What is more, the” Mombasa- Kigali express” is now being extend to Bujumbura, Burundi and Juba in south Sudan. Tanzania should have been in the” Mombasa summit” to “negotiate” a branch line from Voi to Moshi to serve northern Tanzania. That is an opportunity lost, perhaps never to be recovered. 

While the loss could improve efficiency at the Dar- port due to reduced demand, it could also be the first step towards oblivion for the Port. Kenyans have proven their capacity to deliver on their promises. Already another Mega Port, Lamu at the head of Lapsset Corridor is in the works, funds have been set aside to build the first three of the 32 berth port. Coupled with the Mombasa Port, the construction of the Lamu Port could easily reduce Tanzanian ports to a” standby ports” status. 

 So what’s the way forward? Tanzania has to wake up to the current realities, fold their sleeves and jump on the wagon. Being left behind could be disastrous. It could mean that Tanzania will have to initiate development of certain development projects alone.The decision by the club of four to even move ahead with the integration process without Tanzania could mean that Tanzania will always be playing the catch-up game. The time to get in is now. 

 The turn north is clear evidence that Land is not an issue here. In fact like concerns about the effect the sale of ATC to Kenya Airways on Tourism in Tanzania proved, their fears are unwarranted. Although Kenya Airways dominates the Nairobi-Zanzibar-Dar-Es-Salaam-Kilimanjaro route, tourism in Tanzania still thrives. Perhaps Tanzanians are still fighting the ghosts of fear.