Uhuru Kenyatta. Picture: THE TIMES/MOELETSI MABE
Uhuru Kenyatta. Picture: THE TIMES/MOELETSI MABE

Nairobi — Kenya is in talks with Transnet to operate a seaport that the East African country is developing to partly use for planned exports of oil.

The state-owned SA logistics company is leading a group of companies that are pitching to provide the equipment for the initial three of 32 berths planned at Lamu port, and to operate the facility, Kenya Ports Authority managing director Daniel Manduku said.

“We are still negotiating,” Manduku said in an interview, without specifying the value of the deal.

“We hope to have made a decision by end of March.”

Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta is seeking to increase private investment to expand infrastructure and boost economic growth. This comes as the International Monetary Fund advises the government to restrain spending to further reduce its fiscal deficit from 7.5% of GDP at the end of June 2018.

The country’s national treasury earlier said a group of companies is seeking a 25-year public-private partnership to operate the Lamu port.

Lamu would be Kenya’s second international seaport after Mombasa. It was conceived as part of a regional infrastructure plan that includes an oil pipeline from northwestern Kenya, where Tullow Oil plans to start commercial production in 2022. The so-called Lapsset corridor envisages linking the pipeline, roads, rail and airports in Kenya to neighbouring Ethiopia and South Sudan.

Construction of the first berth at Lamu will probably be completed in June, and the next two areas where vessels can dock in 2020, according to Lapsset Corridor Development Authority CEO Silvester Kasuku. The government is spending $480m to construct the three berths, Kasuku said.

Calls to Transnet seeking comment went unanswered.