Importers of Rwanda-bound cargo are beginning to explore a new logistics route through Djibouti to Kigali, as traders seek affordable transport options.
Cargo transport has been increasing since 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc, leading to clogging of supply chains due to a sharp cargo demand.
As a result, importers had to pay double or more for cargo transport. With the sea-air cargo alternative route through Djibouti port, Rwanda-bound cargo for instance, from China, will be shipped to the Djibouti port then airlifted to Kigali within 17 days or less.
“Some Rwandan traders have already signed up, others have placed orders, we made it easy for traders by opening up warehouses in different Chinese cities to receive the cargo directly from suppliers to Kigali,” said Hassan Robleh Mahamoud, Djibouti ports and free zones representative for the Great Lakes Region.
The time it takes from ordering for goods in China to delivery in Kigali by sea and through Dar es Salaam Port or Mombasa port is two months and a half or three months, while some traders have taken even longer than that to get their goods.
“The sea-air model used on this route via Djibouti takes 17 or 18 days to get goods to Kigali, it is a lot faster compared to the sea to inland alternatives we have, I would recommend it to other traders” said Fred Seka, chief executive of Gorilla Logistics.
“They will be bringing in cargo every week, and at $4.2per kilogramme transported from China to Kigali, the alternative is far cheaper in comparison, I am selling the idea to my partners to see that we start using their services starting next month, the Djibouti port is one of the best ports,” he said.
An importer currently spends more than $12 on every kilogramme of cargo transported to Kigali trough Mombasa or Dar es Salaam, leading high costs of goods in the local market. Up to a minimum of 100 kilogrammes of cargo will be transported using Ethiopian airlines cargo planes from Djibouti to Kigali.
Mr Seka said the only challenge at the moment is that the Kigali International Airport may not have capacity to handle large volumes of cargo, and the transportation from the airport could also be an additional cost.