Rwandans operating businesses through the Mombasa Port located on the Indian ocean in Kenya, stand a chance to win the second East Africa Maritime Awards (EAMA), officials of Kenya Ports Authority have said.
The awards scheduled to take place on May 21, 2021 in Mombasa, Kenya, will recognize business operations in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which use the Port of Mombasa.
The awards come at a time when countries in the region have shown resilience under the current COVID-19 pandemic which initially in May 2020 affected business transactions in the region due to disagreements over uniform measures to curb the pandemic across borders.
However, after several consultative meetings, member states have since August 2020 managed to come to a consensus to keep borders open despite escalating COVID-19 figures in East Africa.
KPA said in a press statement released February 9, 2021, that the awards which seek to recognize notable users of the Port of Mombasa and individual players are open to companies from across the breadth of the maritime sector, comprising the shipping, ports, services, engineering, and leisure marine industries.
KPA Ag. Managing Director Eng. Rashid Salim said the Covid-19 pandemic has tested all sectors of the economy globally, however the maritime business has remained resilient, enabling and sustaining regional trade, which in many ways, therefore, makes this year’s East Africa Maritime Awards even more important than before.
“Once we’re through this immediate period of challenge, it’s going to be important to come together and plan for the future – a future, which, despite coronavirus, will still be presenting us with substantial challenges such as responding to climate change,” Eng. Salim said.
EAMA seeks to promote excellence in service delivery and adoption of best practices; appreciate exceptional contribution to the industry and regional economies; encourage innovation and healthy competition among regional industry players; and improve overall performance of the sector.
Joseph Akumuntu, the chairperson of Petroleum importers in Rwanda said that such awards should not overshadow the demands that Rwandan business men and women have tabled to the KPA offices in Kigali.
Akumuntu said that before the COVID-19 pandemic, Rwandans especially petroleum dealers were using 90% of the Mombasa port for business but due to poor services at the Kenyan port, they have resorted to Dar-es-salaam port in Tanzania.
“These awards shouldn’t sugar coat the challenges we have tabled to KPA. For example we asked that they open the port seven days a week, and remove the tender caution fees like Tanzania, which they have not done,” Akumuntu said.
Akumuntu said that at a political level, Kenyan authorities show willingness to address the challenges that were submitted by Rwanda, but lack of a practical business strategy to implement this resolve is still a setback for Rwandans.
The internal EAC market has more than 146 million consumers, of which Rwanda largely depends on EAC ports to do business with the rest of the region.
For instance, in the third quarter of 2020, Rwanda’s total trade was $ 1486.45 million, Exports were $ 428.78 million, imports were $978.31 million according to National Institute of Statistics figures.
Categories to Win
Rwandan businessmen who spoke to KT Press said that they have never participated in the awards. However, KPA has rolled out categories of awards to be won if applied for before February 22, 2021.
The awards are grouped into clusters based on their maritime functionality and service offering with a total of 27 distinct categories including: Exporter of the Year, Importer of the Year, Best Cargo Transporter, Best Cargo Freight Station, Best Regional Cargo logistics provider, Best Clearing and Forwarding Agent (for each participating country) and Best Warehousing Company.
There is also the Best Shipping Line, Best Shipping Agent (Liner Agency), Best Shipping Agent (Tramp Agency), Best Shipping Agent (Coastal and Inland Shipping), Best Cargo Consolidator, Partner Government Agency, and Private Sector Business Membership Organization (each participating country).
Other categories include Auxiliary Service Awards (Bunkering, Ship Chandling, Marine surveys, Ship contracting, Pre-shipment inspection), Financial Services, Marine Cargo Insurance Services, Maritime Education & Training, Environmental Protection and Occupational Health & Safety.
There will also be awards in Innovation, Corporate Social Investment, Outstanding Micro, Small & Medium Enterprise (MSME), Maritime Journalist (for each participating country), Young Achiever, Outstanding Woman, and Lifetime Achievement.
Interested companies and individuals have until February 26, 2021 to submit their entries.
The EAMA awards, launched December 21, 2020 under the theme- “Innovation, Competitiveness and Sustainability” are organized in partnerships with the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA), Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya Trade Network Agency (KenTrade), Shippers Council of Eastern Africa (SCEA) and East African Business Council (EABC) of which Rwanda is member. .