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Closing the supply and demand gap in Africa’s maritime industry

Closing the supply and demand gap in Africa’s maritime industry

PORT expansion abounds in Africa. In fact, there is so much demand for trade through African ports and harbours that demand currently exceeds supply.

In fact, there is so much demand for trade through African ports and harbours that demand currently exceeds supply, meaning that rivalry between the continent’s ports may not be a reality for some time to come.  Instead of rivalry, cooperation is underway, and port authorities and corridor groups are raising the bar for regional collaboration with the formation of partnerships that are enabling infrastructure expansion and trade development.

Africa’s leading ports authorities are sending their Chief Executives to Cape Town next month to take part in the African Ports Evolution Forum, where they will determine the scale of the next wave of maritime industry development across the continent.

Nancy Karigithu, Managing Director of the Kenya Maritime Authority will share her nation’s successes in developing the Port of Mombasa into Eastern and Central Africa’s leading maritime gateway with a growth rate averaging over 7.4% per annum.  Catherine Wairi, General Manager of Finance at the Kenya Ports Authority, will also be in attendance at African Ports Evolution to join in the discussion and highlight how they have increased cargo throughput over the last 12 years to reach volumes exceeding 21 million tonnes in 2012.

But dynamic development is not limited to Eastern and Central Africa alone.  The Namibia Ports Authority (Namport) is scheduled to start the construction of a US$1.5bn bulk fuel storage facility next year, in a phased construction of new port facilities called North Port.  Elzevir Gelderbloem, Port Engineer from Namport, will provide practical insight into the dynamic developments that are now transforming the Port of Walvis Bay into a “21st century gateway.”  Johny Smith, CEO of the Walvis Bay Corridor Group, will highlight connectivity opportunities and how these are affecting port development.  Coal discoveries in Botswana, for example, are fuelling developments such as investments into larger dry bulk cargo terminals in order to accommodate growing coal trade volumes.  Modise Koofhethile, CEO of the Gaborone Container Terminal in Botswana will also touch upon the effects that mineral discoveries in Botswana have had on regional trade and development.

The African Ports Evolution Forum is designed by the industry for the industry, with support from nine strategic partners including the Botswana Chamber of Mines, the Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative, the South African Shippers Council and the Walvis Bay Corridor Group.  The event is sponsored by 15 maritime industry leaders including Bechtel, Grindrod, Namport, Marine Data Solutions, Sandvick Mining, Associated Marine, Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC), BASF, Bosch Projects, Bosch Security Systems, Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC), Konkrete MBP, Royal HaskoningDHV, Stefanutti Stocks and ThyssenKrupp Materials Handling.

The amount of time cargo spends at ports in Africa is still, on average, 20 days, but if ports authorities are able to significantly reduce this average; they will effectively reduce the cost of doing business across the continent and open up new cross border business opportunities.  Tau Morwe, Chief Executive Officer of Transnet National Ports Authority and Keynote speaker at the event says “We hope that this event will prove beneficial for Africans across borders and aid in developing a vibrant maritime industry.”

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