9 Major Ports In Kenya

9 Major Ports In Kenya

Kenya, a country situated in the Eastern African region is the largest economy in eastern and central Africa with its capital, Nairobi serving as a major regional commercial hub. The agricultural sector is the second biggest contributor to the nation’s economy and employs 75% of the local population. Tea and coffee are the traditional cash crops and contribute significantly to the economy. A boost can be seen in Kenya’s economy due to a growth in the service sector, tourism and telecommunications. 

Owing to its demographics, Kenya indulges in international trade through its ports. The top exports of the country include Tea ($1.2B), Cut Flowers ($596M), Refined Petroleum ($308M), Gold ($262M) and Coffee ($229M). Countries from around the world take shipments from Kenya such as Uganda which trades around US$1 billion worth of products while Pakistan ($515M), the Netherlands ($503M), United States ($496M), and United Kingdom ($435). In Kenya, the international trade of import-export is carried out by 

thriving Kenyan ports that act as wheels of the economy by bringing in revenue.

Port of Mombasa 

Mombasa Port is situated on the African coast, and is the largest and the busiest port in the Eastern African region. This port is an important maritime gateway for the Eastern and Central regions. It has a handling capacity of 2.65 million TEUs (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units). It serves countries such as Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia, and Somalia and handles shipments from Western Europe, Asia, the Americas and the East. It is the 5th best container port in the African region and stands at 117th position in the world. 

The port deals with shipments of various kind of products such as fertilisers, grains, cement, soda ash and liquid bulk items like crude oil and petroleum. Coffee, sugar and tea are the commodities meant for export from Kenya. In addition, the port also handles bulk and heavy cargo such as iron and steel, timber, vehicles and container goods. The port has a grain capacity of 245,000 metric tonnes. Kenya Ports Authority oversees the operations from pilotage, docking and anchorage, whereas shipping, transport and storage services are offered by third party enterprises. 

Port Reitz 

The port of Reitz is located in the northwest region of the island, Mombasa. This port was once a fully functional and flourishing facility, but has since then fallen into disrepair due to irregular maintenance. The area still has a picturesque view of the palatial homes built by the British in the 19th century, but now it is also dotted with container freight stations, vehicle yards, and garages.

Port of Lamu 

The port of Lamu or Lamu Corridor is a port still in development. When complete, the port will become the second largest port in Kenya. The port would handle major cargo traffic of the region’s north corridor. The site for the construction of the port, Manda Bayat, was chosen strategically keeping in mind the wide entrance channel and a deep basin. It has a 10 km shoreline which makes it ideal for building a port with a capacity of accommodating 23 berths. 

The Kenyan government has embarked on a project to build the port of Lamu with state-of-the-art infrastructure, including a railway terminal, storage tanks, container freight stations, and refinery. This port will be able to accommodate larger ships and will handle cargo that is currently being routed to Sudan and the Mombasa port. It is projected that this new port will see cargo traffic totaling 23.9 million by 2030. 

Port of Kilifi 

The port of Kilifi is a medium-sized port located in the Kilifi Creek. The port area is very well sheltered and has a bridge. Annually, the wharf deals with 230 million tonnes of fish. The shore is known for its beautiful mangroves and is a popular spot for water sports so the port also offers marina services. Kenya Ports Authority aims to develop it further so that it can accommodate 200 mooring points for all kinds of ships. 

Port of Mtwapa 

This small port is currently only equipped to handle smaller yachts and ships, but plans are underway to expand its facilities to accommodate fishing vessels as well. The Kenya Port Authority is currently constructing a fish landing facility and some berths. Once completed, this will allow the port to better serve the needs of the local fishing community. 

Port of Shimoni 

Shimoni port is a small port located on Wasini island off the southern coast of Kenya. It is scarcely linked to the mainland, but it is the biggest small port in terms of coastal trade, handling about 10,000 metric tonnes of cargo. The dock primarily handles fishing activities and tourism. It has a deep and well-sheltered bay that can accommodate large ships. The Kenya Ports Authority is planning to develop the shipping port further, which will expand its potential as a trading spot. 

Port of Malindi 

The port of Malindi is located on the northern side and is just 120 kms away from the biggest port of the country, the port of Mombasa. It has a dock that is in good condition however due to accretion, the breaking area has drifted to the fish landing part of the port. Its anchorage is 11 m

to 12.2 m and it can accommodate vessels measuring up to 500 m. This port exports cotton, sim-sim and copra. It also serves the fish industry and has scope for expansion that is why the Kenya Ports Authority is working to revamp the dock to make it an efficient fishing port and also a tourist spot, as the Malindi town is a popular destination. Currently, the fish jetty handles about 1,250 Metric Tonnes annually and sees 8000 tourist vessels. 

Port of Kiung 

The port of Kiung is a dock near the Village of Kirunga that deals with 2500 Metric Tonnes of fish and 1000 Metric Tonnes of cotton and coconut exports. This jetty has limited access to sea and the Kenya Ports Authority is planning to take 20 acres of land to develop this port into an efficient fishing port that would boost the fishing sector. It also plans to dredge the water channel and construct another wharf that has easy access to the waters. The port would also have offices and buildings apart from a cold storage facility for keeping seafood. 

Kisumu Port 

The Kisumu Port is located on the banks of Lake Victoria and exports petroleum products from Kenya to bordering countries like the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and Southern Sudan. It also deals with edible oil, bar soaps, shoe polish, sweets, shoes, netting material, blankets and fertilisers. The port imports sugar, cottonseed cake, bottled water and soda. It spans 17.5 hectares and has a stacking area that can handle about 15,000 TEUs annually. It imported 21,943 tons in 2014 and according to estimates, its local imports would increase to 130,000 tonnes by 2025, and 180,000 tonnes by 2035. 


The seaports are the gateways for goods in and out of the country and are the entry points for tourists. East African countries including Kenya, have coastlines stretching for thousands of miles, and that allows the ports to be a major source of income for the country. In Kenya, three major ports- Mombasa, Lamu and Malindi handle most of the trade. The trade volume of Kenya with other countries has grown exponentially in the last couple of years. According to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), the country’s overall trade volume increased from US$18.2 Billion in 2020 to US$23.2 Billion in 2021. 

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