PORT OF CALL

Kuwait 2017 | TRANSPORT & LOGISTICS | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Sheikh Yousef Abdullah Sabah Al-Nasser Al-Sabah, Director General of Kuwait Ports Authority (KPA), on his operational plans for the near future and turning Kuwait into a regional logistics hub.

Sheikh Yousef Abdullah Sabah Al-Nasser Al-Sabah
BIOGRAPHY
Sheikh Yousef Abdullah Sabah Al-Nasser Al-Sabah is currently Director General of the KPA. Prior to that, he served in progressive roles in the military. He holds a bachelor’s in economics from Boston University, a master’s in international studies and diplomacy from the University of London, and an MBA from Kuwait University, as well as advanced military courses in both Kuwait and the US. He served as Major and Commander of Foreign Procurement in the Kuwaiti army and became Lt Colonel before retiring from service in 2007, though remaining a honorary member of the Association of the US Army.

What were the cornerstones of your operational strategy in 2016?

At the end of 2015, we received budget approval from the Council of Ministers to redevelop the entire infrastructure of the KPA. This includes transforming the current storage areas into the Kuwait Logistics City Project and a complete transformation of three ports into smart port systems with fully integrated control systems. We are also implementing a new tracking system, allowing companies to track their containers via our partners the General Department For Customs. KPA works hand in hand with customs to expand the size of its customs plots to allow it to inspect more incoming containers and general cargo because of the increase in incoming goods. Furthermore, RFID, container tracking, vehicle tracking, and smart gate systems will be included in the smart port system. We have strategized with the National Technology Enterprises Company to control the whole infrastructure and terms of reference to prequalify international companies to implement such a project. Integration is the most important element in this type of project. No other port has integrated facilities under one single roof. For our 2016-17 strategy, we are looking at the expansion of Shuaiba Port and have invited 11 international consultancy companies to present their offers via the Consultancy Firms Committee under the General Secretariat of Planning & Development.

How will these efficiencies impact revenues for KPA?

A year before I joined KPA, the authority made profits of KWD14 million in the 2014-2015 fiscal year. The following year it was KWD31 million, and for 2016-2017 we are approaching KWD40 million. After implementing all our projects in our approved strategy, we expect to more than quadruple our profits, which would put us amongst the top ports in the world in terms of profits. Reaching this goal requires a number of other changes as well, such as completely developing the current aging facilities and port infrastructure and increasing our Kuwaiti operational staff capabilities by training them at different port agencies and maritime academies all over the world. We also have vast storage facilities and want to introduce an integrated, end-to-end logistics system to become a service provider rather than a landlord. In fact, the concept of rental per square meter has completely changed into a fee per service per cubic meter. The revenue stream of that multiplies by 5-10, which would be a great income-generating stream. This can be implemented by transforming the current storage areas into Kuwait Logistics City.

Kuwait has ambitions to boost its status as a regional logistics hub. What is your vision on the interconnectivity of ports in the region?

As a country, we import a great deal of what we consume and therefore require roads, bridges, railways, airports, and ports to satisfy the day-to-day influx of these goods. We seek an integration of the sea, roads, railways, and airports. There are so many countries that have excelled and gone through the phase of trial and error, and we should learn from that experience in terms of how those ports are run and the integration of systems. As the ports authority, we would be happy to share our experiences and best practices. This will allow us to become a role model of how ports should be run in the future.

What are your expectations for the year ahead?

We will finalize all our engineering works and should be starting the prequalification process of international contractors for the expansion of Shuwaikh and Shuaiba. At the port authority, we have three indexes: the port efficiency index, the port infrastructure index, and the logistics index—the latter as part of the World Bank. In all three, we were listed as being in last place among the GCC countries. Once we build the Kuwait Logistics City, expand our ports, and introduce the integrated smart port system, we will definitely be one of the top in the world.