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Monday, 13 July 2015

African port infrastructure investment to drive change

Lack of infrastructure and long ship waiting times continue to impact productivity for the African container sector but a wave of new investments look set to drive growth over the medium term, according to recently published data from research consultancy SeaIntel.

The first in a series of biannual reports, SeaIntel's  Port Overview Africa highlights the key incidents and developments in Africa ports over the first half of 2015 and is based on carrier shipping performance statistics and port incidents.

“African ports have experienced extreme highs and lows and will continue to do so for the rest of this decade” Victor Shieh Editor-in-Chief at SeaIntel commented. “A variety of challenges exist, from structural congestion in African ports located in conurbations with limited road and rail infrastructure to poor customs procedures, security concerns, poor dredging programmes and industrial actions.”

While the report notes that schedule reliability and productivity has generally improved over the first six months of the year there was caution over “infrastructure deficits” in African hinterland connections, “limited improvements” in vessel waiting time and an “overall increase” in average vessel size calling at African ports.

“Productivity at the quayside and at the stacks have improved at many terminals. However, actual container deliveries perform poorly with less than a one in two chance that your cargo will arrive on time at the customer” Shieh said.

“If you contrast the remarkable progress achieved in the construction of the second canal at Suez or the new rail link between Addis Ababa and Djibouti with reduced draft in Durban, the traffic gridlock on the Apapa-Oshodi expressway and a constant two-week wait to berth at Douala, we believe here is a need to provide shippers with true information to facilitate trade to and from Africa.” “Shieh explained

Local transhipment hub boosts West African trade

One of the key trends shaping the development of African ports has been the move towards larger hub ports capable of serving the latest Ultra Large Container Vessels (ULCV). Seaintel notes that with the launch of  the Port of Lome in Togo in January was the principal highlight of the first half of 2015.

 Shipping line MSC launched an eleven vessel service via Port of Lome to and from Asia with an average capacity of 6,500 TEU per service and Seaintel data suggests that this significantly “ramped up” large scale West African transhipment traffic over the last six months.

 “Up until now, most West Africa ports have been served either by direct services or via transhipment in the North via Tangiers or Algeciras or in the South via Durban, Coega or Cape Town,” Shieh commented.

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