Improvements in Africa ports but investment still needs to catch up

SeaIntel’s Port Overview Africa report highlighted that African ports are still hamstrung by poor infrastructure, slow customs procedures, resulting in long waiting times.  The report mentioned improvements in scheduling reliability and productivity in the first six months, but challenges remain.

African ports still struggle with old equipment, creating bottlenecks in handling cargo. A World Bank study found that, with the exception of Durban, South Africa, cargo spends on average 20 days in African ports, compared to three to four days for most other ports.

In West Africa, the report lauded the Port of Lome for “significant advances in improving capacity and efficiency.” One of the key trends noted, is the migration towards larger hub ports capable of serving the latest Ultra Large Container Vessels (ULCV).

A number of investments are on the horizon. Cameroon is looking to build the only deep sea-port in central Africa at Kribi. Gabon is upgrading Owendo and Port-Gentilm and Kenya is considering upgrades to Mombasa, to counter the Tanzanian threat for East African dominance. Terrorist attacks have put a damper on the prospects of the Northern Kenya port in Lamu. Tanzania has already broken ground in Bagamoyo (Pwani region North of Dar es Salaam), a historic trading post and starting point for European explorers.