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Kenya election re-run caused a slow-down in traffic from key Africa port

  • Kenya's election re-run last week caused a decline in deliveries from the country's shipping hub of Mombasa
  • "This was attributed to the withdrawal of trucks from the road by owners in fear of insecurity ... during the polls," wrote the state-run Kenya Ports Authority
  • Political instability in Kenya is testing the country's resilient economic fundamentals
A man reads a newspaper outside the central market in Mombasa, Kenya, on August 10, 2017, as the country waits for the final results from the general election.
Tobin Jones | AFP | Getty Images
A man reads a newspaper outside the central market in Mombasa, Kenya, on August 10, 2017, as the country waits for the final results from the general election.

Kenya's election re-run last week caused a decline in deliveries from the country's shipping hub of Mombasa, a state-run body in charge of the nation's ports has reported.

Cargo deliveries from Mombasa by road declined by just over 10 percent in the week before October 25, a day before the country's presidential election re-run, the Kenya Ports Authority said in a statement.

"This was attributed to the withdrawal of trucks from the road by owners in fear of insecurity ... during the polls," the Kenya Ports Authority wrote. The number of train deliveries, as well as the return of empty containers to the port, also fell.

Political instability in Kenya is testing the country's resilient economic fundamentals. Last week, the country staged a re-run of August's disputed presidential election, with incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta once again declared winner with 98 percent of the vote.

Kenyatta's main political rival Raila Odinga boycotted the election altogether, and in a speech Tuesday encouraged his supporters to stage "economic boycotts, peaceful procession, picketing and other legitimate forms of protest."

"The worst outcome for business would be if rioting in Mombasa, the busiest port in East Africa, prevents goods from being exported," said a note by Ben Payton, head of Africa research at consultancy firm Verisk Maplecroft.

A dock worker for the Kenya Ports Authority monitors the movement of shipping containers unloaded from freight ships in Mombasa, Kenya, on April 26, 2013.
Trevor Snapp | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A dock worker for the Kenya Ports Authority monitors the movement of shipping containers unloaded from freight ships in Mombasa, Kenya, on April 26, 2013.

He detailed that such a shutdown would disrupt business supply chains throughout the region and affect food and fuel prices. It would also "accelerate moves to redirect trade through rival ports in Tanzania" as political violence takes a toll on Kenya's competitiveness, Payton said.

It is the second time this year that shipping from Mombasa has been impacted by political upheaval. Cargo leaving Mombasa dropped to 70 percent of its usual level during August's general election week, Bernard Osoro, corporate affairs manager at the port, is reported to have said.

"Mombasa heavily favored the opposition in the elections and rioting already occurred in mid-October," Payton told CNBC. But, he added that trade through the port would only be seriously disrupted if unrest nationwide escalated to the 2008 highs which followed a previous disputed election.

"The situation in western Kenya, Raila Odinga's heartland, is more tense. Blocking trucks from Uganda, or even destroying goods, would be one way that opposition supporters could inflict economic pain on the government," Payton said.

But despite ongoing political instability – on top of a drought earlier this year impacting food prices – Kenya's October inflation figure fell to 5.72 percent year-on-year in October. This is its lowest in 17 months.