With an official ceremony held on September 23 in the presence of Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, the military port of Manda Bay has been officially upgraded from a naval station to a naval base, assuming a new operational autonomy and becoming one of the main centers for the management of regional naval operations of the Kenyan Navy.
The Kenyan President said that the transformation of Manda Bay into a naval base is a key element of the national defense strategy, which aims to strengthen its operational capacity in the north of the country bordering the always treacherous waters of Somalia.
The priorities on which the tasks assigned to Manda Bay will focus are the fight against terrorism and maritime piracy, as well as ensuring regular coastal protection and rescue at sea.
Manda Bay has long been a key element in the logistics and support chain to Kenyan units engaged in AMISOM in southern Somalia, as well as in the fight against al Shabaab jihadists that have repeatedly struck civilian and military targets close to the Kenyan border.
The Manda Bay base also plays a vital and strategic role in the future development of the nearby port of Lamu and the simultaneous construction of the road link with South Sudan and Ethiopia – a project known by the acronym of LAPSSET – which will allow a considerable increase in the movement of goods produced in East Africa.
This project involves not only the construction of a modern loading terminal at Lamu, but also and above all the development of a complex land transport system at the service of the port, whose ambitions are to become a primary hub for cargo handling in the entire Indian Ocean.
In the area of Manda Bay there is also a US military detachment, actively engaged in the fight against terrorism in the region, and that on the new port infrastructure could further invest in the strengthening of the operational and logistic capacity of the local US forces.