The Northern Corridor is the busiest and most important transport route in East and Central Africa, providing a lifeline through Kenya to the landlocked economies of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo.
These countries are served by an extensive network of transport routes originating from the Port of Mombasa, through Uganda, then branching off to Rwanda, Burundi and the eastern parts of DRC.
Imports to and exports from the member states transit through the ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam. Routes ending or starting in Mombasa form the Northern Corridor, while those connected to Dar es Salaam belong to the Central Corridor.
The main Northern Corridor artery is served by a combination of transport modes and infrastructure facilities that include: the Maritime Port of Mombasa; road network; rail network; rail-lake transport; inland water routes; inland container depots; and, an oil pipeline. All these form part of the Northern Corridor infrastructure used in facilitating the flow of goods across member countries.
Combined transit and transhipment traffic through the Corridor exceeds 2.2 million tonnes every year, and has been growing at a rate of 20 per cent annually. In this context, it is important to note that transport costs account for about 30 per cent of the value of goods within the Corridor. These non-tariff barriers also aggravate the prices of consumer goods.
An alternative transport network serving the landlocked Great lakes region is through Tanzania, in the Central Corridor. The 1,400 km-long corridor uses lake transport on the Lake Tanganyika to Kigoma in Tanzania, and then road or rail to Dar-Es-Salaam.
Another option is the Deep South route, through Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. This corridor uses lake transport on the Lake Tanganyika to Mpulungu in Zambia, and then road transport, or a mix of rail and road transport, to Durban in South Africa. This option is too far from the Great Lakes countries.
A third option - through DR of Congo from the Angola – port of Lobito is currently inoperational.