Home » Africa: Kenya Launches Historic First Locally Built Cargo Ship Uhuru II, Paving The Way For Domestic Shipbuilding Revolution

Africa: Kenya Launches Historic First Locally Built Cargo Ship Uhuru II, Paving The Way For Domestic Shipbuilding Revolution

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Kenya achieved a significant milestone in its quest for economic growth and self-sufficiency with the commissioning of its first locally-built cargo ship, the Uhuru II.

According to maritime-executive.com, operated on Lake Victoria, this 328-foot vessel is a symbol of Kenya’s burgeoning shipbuilding and repair capabilities, breaking new ground as the first commercial cargo ship constructed within the country.

Constructed by the military-controlled Kenya Shipyards Limited in collaboration with Dutch shipbuilder Damen Shipyards, the Uhuru II is hailed as a key response to the escalating demand for freight services within the lake region. Increased intra-regional trade across the East Africa Community (EAC) is a driving force behind this demand.

READ: Aviacargo: Kenya’s Astral Aviation Set to Become Launch Customer for Embraer’s E190F Cargo Conversion Jet in 2024

Despite the complexity of the design and being the shipyard’s inaugural commercial venture, construction of the Uhuru II was completed in 24 months, showcasing the nation’s capability in shipbuilding. The vessel, optimized for transporting dry cargo and fuel, can carry up to 1,063 tonnes of cargo, including two million liters of crude oil per trip. Equipped with Caterpillar 3500 series marine diesel engines, the ship boasts a cruising speed of 14 knots.

The project, costing $20 million, is celebrated for not only achieving self-reliance but also saving $10.8 million compared to an international project. This cost efficiency is attributed to domestic construction, underscoring the potential economic benefits of investing in local capabilities. President William Ruto emphasized the multifaceted impact of the Uhuru II, stating, “It is not only a means of transportation but also a catalyst for economic growth and development in our region.”

READ: News: Kenya Airways cargo (KQ Cargo) and Astral Aviation signs Codeshare agreement to support air trade flows between Africa and the Middle East

The Uhuru II enters service at a time when intra-regional trade among the EAC partner states is on the rise, reaching $10.1 billion in 2022. The vessel is poised to contribute to this growth by facilitating trade, creating job opportunities, and supporting businesses in the region.

Operating alongside the MV Uhuru, the Uhuru II adds capacity to goods transportation, particularly petroleum products. The success of a new jetty in Kisumu, dedicated to the oil business, further underscores Kenya’s commitment to streamlining trade and eliminating bottlenecks. The government has already announced plans to construct three more ships, signaling a promising future for Kenya’s shipbuilding industry and its role in facilitating regional trade and economic development.

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