NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 7 – The introduction of regular flights between Nairobi and Juba by Kenya Airways is set to boost trade between Kenya and Southern Sudan, Cabinet Minister Amos Kimunya has said.
Mr Kimunya said on Monday that the launch of the daily flights linking Nairobi to Juba will be instrumental in ferrying passengers to the city that is already considered one of the fastest growing in the world as traders and investors flock to take advantage of the existing opportunities.
“As we all know, transport is a key element in the enhancement of trade and I believe that the introduction of these flights by Kenya Airways will go a long way in enhancing the trading activity not only between us and Southern Sudan but also within the region,” the acting Transport Minister said before the inaugural KQ flight to Juba.
The Minister said trade would also be complemented following plans by Southern Sudan to construct an oil pipeline from Lamu to Juba and a railway line connecting to Uganda which would help stimulate growth in the East African region.
“These proposed infrastructures together with the already existing interconnectivity between the two neighbouring countries can only make our two economies grow faster for the betterment of our people,” he added.
Since the opening of a Consulate in Juba in February 2006, there has been an increase in the number of individuals and organisations that have settled in the regional capital and other regions to do business.
While thanking Southern Sudan for granting the national carrier rights to land in Juba, Mr Kimunya hailed the airline for its role in opening up the region to the rest of Africa.
He assured of the government’s commitment to provide an enabling environment for the carrier as it seeks to grow its route network across the continent. It already flies to over 30 African destinations, some of which enabled it to regain its profitability in 2009 to Sh2.67 billion.
In its financial results released last week, passenger traffic in Southern Africa grew by seven percent driven largely by the launch of operations to Maputo, Ndola and Gaborone. Increased frequencies in Johannesburg, Lusaka and Harare were also instrumental in growing the traffic.
KQ joins other airlines that are already operating on the Juba route, a move which is expected to intensify competition.
It also joins other local firms such as such as UAP, Kenya Commercial Bank Group that have invested in South Sudan.