Kampala: Despite a tough business environment characterised by high inflation and a volatile exchange regime, car sales across East Africa experienced an upsurge, according to data obtained from the Kenya Ports Authority. Data shows the region realised a motor vehicle entry upsurge of 24.1 per cent handled through the Port of Mombasa. At least 32,388 motor vehicles rolled off the ramp at the port between January and April compared to 26,090 units in the same period last year.
Mr Gichiri Ndua, the Kenya Ports Authority managing director, said while releasing the first quarter results, the marked improvement has been a result of years of economic improvement assisted by a wider democratic space and the independence of South Sudan.
Total imports Kenya imported a total of 14,700 units in 2012 indicating a 21.5 per cent growth. According to Mr Gachiri, the number of vehicles imported by Kenyans was the highest across the Eastern Africa.
Uganda was ranked second importing 3,309 units in the 2012 first quarter indicating a percentage growth of 33.3 per cent. Political stability, especially in South Sudan and Rwanda also had a positive effect in the growth of the region’s car imports.
Rwanda’s GDP has rebounded with an average annual growth of 7 per cent since 2003 while inflation has been reduced to single digits, according to the country’s central bank.
Mr Gachiri said: “In terms of percentage growth South Sudan had accounted for the largest growth recorded in the period under review with a staggering 58.1 per cent increase. The country imported 2,307 units in 2012 up from 1,459 recorded in 2011.”
Mr Hafiz Noor Mohamed, the logistics manager at Freight Forwarders, attributed the growth to a growing middle class resulting from economic prowess in the region. “Lack of proper transport network in the region has made everyone opt for a private car as opposed to commuting,” Mr Mohamed said.
With the dollar fluctuation easing, experts believe that business people are now making up for the lost time when the dollar was not in their favour; having come down from a record high of Ksh100 to an average of Ksh 85 in Kenya while in Uganda it’s stabilising at Shs2,450 down from a high of Shs2,800.
Industry experts are hopeful that there will be a growth in imports soon.