In the Beginning

The Kenya Shippers Council was in existence in the late 60’s and early 70’s as a representative body for large cargo owners (importers and exporters). It however did not progress for lack of stakeholder support due to the level of industry at that time.

With the changes in the economy and the growth in key sectors of manufacturing, horticulture, agriculture and transport, a meeting of Northern Corridor stakeholders (Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and DRC) in the year 2000 made a move to revive the Kenya Shippers Council (KSC). The decision was borne out of frustrations and surcharges faced by the shippers doing business through the Kenyan ports and using the transport services available.

The Council was initially registered as a society in September 2004, by the Kenya International Freight and Warehouse Association (KIFWA) an umbrella organization for clearing and forwarding companies. In November 2004, a meeting of interested parties was convened under the chairmanship of the Ministry of Trade and Industry and sponsorship of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) to initiate the transfer of control of the Council from KIFWA to the cargo owners. This was in line with the stated goals of the KSC to represent the interests of the cargo owners.

In 2005, USAID East Africa, through the East and Central Africa Trade Hub (ECA Trade Hub) and in collaboration with KAM, sponsored the development of a reactivation and restructuring Plan by an independent consultant with an aim of restoring the financial and operational viability of the Council on a more sustainable basis. KAM spearheaded the reactivation process on behalf of other shippers (importers and exporters by sea, land and air). A stakeholders conference held at the Serena Hotel on July 6, 2006 endorsed the plan and established the KSC Interim Executive Committee (IEC) with a mandate to drive the implementation process. The Hub extended its technical assistance to subsequent activities of the IEC by supporting a marketing campaign to popularize the restructuring plan among business communities and facilitated the preparation of the re-launch as well as the Special General Meeting (SGM) that took place immediately after.

The SGM confirmed incumbent members of the IEC in their positions for a period of 6 months or up to the next Annual General Meeting, whichever came earlier, and resolved that the IEC be expanded by a maximum of three seats to accommodate associate members, who until then were not represented. The SGM also resolved that the legal status of the Council be amended from a society to a company limited by guarantee. Changes to the relevant provisions of the constitution were adopted to allow implementation of the above resolutions.

The Council as Cargo Owners Body

KSC was officially re-launched as a representative of cargo owners on 25th October 2006 by the then Minister of Transport Hon. Amb. Chirau Ali Mwakwere  and the Permanent Secretary, Gerrishon Ikiara and started operations in June 2007 following the appointment of a Chief Executive and one part time member of staff.  The Council was housed at KAM from June 2007 to June 2010 with an 8-member board made up of the leadership of the five founding associations namely KAM, East Africa Tea Trade Association (EATTA), Kenya Coffee Traders Association (KCTA), Fresh Produce Exporters Association (FPEAK), and the East Africa Cement Producers Association East Africa (EACPA).



Through KAM’s diverse networks with multiple government ministries and donor organizations, KSC was able to slowly take up the mantle in handling transport and logistics-related issues. From 2008 to 2009 KSC secured funding of its advocacy activities from the Business Advocacy Fund (BAF) which helped it gain a foothold in the activities of the logistics sub-sector. Following the success of implementation of these activities, the Council continued to attract more donor funding that assisted it set up a Secretariat and hire full time staff,  widen the reach its advocacy activities, and roll out awareness programs for its members.


In 2010, following a 1 year institutional support  from USAID-COMPETE, the Council rented its current office premises in Westlands and was able to craft a strategic plan for 2010-2012. The following year, TradeMark East Africa extended technical and financial support to enable the Council develop a database of import/export rules, regulations and procedures, commonly referred as the e-portal. This database assists all shippers and service providers to easily access  trade-related information. TMEA continues to extend institutional and technical support to the KSC and now SCEA.  Through the years the Council has been able to develop more products including  study reports, policy papers and the first annual Logistics Perfomance Index for the East African region.


The 2009-10 Strategic Plan proposed the eventual transformation of the Kenya Shippers Council to a regional body at the end of the strategic plan period, due to the reach of its members and the extent of the transport and logistics issues that emanate from the port of Mombasa to the hinterland. It is also in line with  the Council’s strategy to lobby the East African Community on logistics issues. From 2013,  the Council will operate as Shippers Council of Eastern Africa, legally registered in Kenya but with intentions of establishing a regional presence.