Kenya’s Port of Mombasa has ranked below Berbera for the second consecutive year as East Africa’s largest harbour dropped further in the latest World Bank report.

In the newly released Container Port Performance Index, Mombasa fell two positions to 328 in overall ranking globally last year, down from 326. A total of 405 ports were ranked.

In stark contrast, the Port of Berbera surged to position 106, a significant leap from its previous rank of 144, underscoring its rising prominence in regional cargo handling efficiency.

Despite Mombasa’s decline, it showed a marked improvement over Dar es Salaam, which plummeted to position 367 from 312 last year.

Berbera Port outshines Mombasa again. Image: WB.
Berbera Port outshines Mombasa again. Image: WB.

Additionally, Mombasa outperformed Djibouti, which saw a dramatic drop from 26 to 379 in the latest rankings.

Berbera’s impressive performance can be attributed to the operational takeover by DP World in 2017. Since then, cargo volumes have increased by 35 percent, and vessel productivity has soared by 300 percent.

The implementation of new digital systems and sustainable practices has also reduced vessel waiting times from days to mere hours.

Mombasa’s decline in the World Bank rankings has been consistent since the index’s inception in 2020. In the 2021 report, the port was ranked 296.

However, the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) asserts significant improvements in cargo handling at East Africa’s major gateway.

According to KPA, the turnaround time for container vessels decreased from an average of three days in 2022 to two days in 2023. Additionally, the average container dwell time reduced to 3.5 days from 3.9 days in 2022, marking a 10 percent improvement.

Ship waiting time for containerised vessels dropped to 0.2 days, with gross vessel turnaround time decreasing from 90.5 hours in 2022 to 64.1 hours in 2023.

The port rankings are based on efficiency, measured by the elapsed time between a ship’s arrival and its departure after completing cargo exchange.

The World Bank emphasises that efficient port operations are crucial for regional trade development, noting significant improvements since 2020, following the COVID-19 pandemic-induced downturn.

The ranking methodology used in the report combines an administrative approach, reflecting expert judgment, and a statistical approach using factor analysis to ensure the rankings are both accurate and statistically robust.

 “The rationale for using two approaches was to try and ensure that the ranking of container port performance reflects as closely as possible actual port performance, whilst also being statistically robust,” the World Bank stated.

By Gerald Andae