COMMENT: Annual container trade capacity is up 8%, but there are fewer services calling at East and Southern Africa (ESAF) box ports. These are among the key findings from a new report from consultant Dynamar.
And in common with other container ports around the world, the number of vessels serving those trades has dropped as the average teu has increased to a record 4,400 teu. Even after removing distorting wayporting calls, the trend is still for less ships of larger sizes.
This has clearly placed pressure on ports serving these African trades, where private ownership is very much the exception rather than the rule.
Dynamar’s in-depth study of the East & Southern Africa Container Trades (2017) finds that the Far East and the Middle East vie for the lion’s share of East and Southern Africa container trade. With a forecast growth of 12% in the overall region’s economy to 2019, East African trades seem to offer better prospects to those of Southern Africa, according to the report. Dynamar even goes so far as to predict that East Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands might supplant Southern Africa as the larger container trade in the future.
The Study features an interesting summary of ESAF ports and their respective capacities, highlighting 24 ESAF ports that appear on the schedule of intercontinental liner services. Seven are in East Africa, eight are in the Indian Ocean Islands and the remaining nine are in South Africa. Interesting developments cited include: Mombasa’s capacity now being at a level that puts it into second place behind Durban; Dar es Salaam inching up to just behind Ngqura and the rise of Port Reunion as a hub thanks to its increased use by CMA CGM.
Working with the strict definition of the ESAF region, Dynamar surprisingly only identifies three international terminal operators active in the ESAF Region – DP World in Maputo, Hutchison in Dar es Salaam and ICTSI in Madagascar. DP World is of course also in nearby Djibouti and so too as of earlier this year is China Merchants Ports Holdings, managing the new multi-purpose terminal facilities built with Chinese funding and now able to capitalise on the new Chinese-built electrified railway to Addis Ababa, delivered at a cost of $4bn.
It is reasonable to expect that there will be increased international terminal operator activity in the region as the port of Mombasa new container terminal facilities again come up for privatisation as well as new facilities planned for Dar es Salaam. Also, still waiting in the wings is the prospect of port privatisation in South Africa, if not for the existing container terminals then for expansion projects at Durban and Cape Town.
The Study further features 17 major sections with these including: Container liner carriers; Container shipping services (including trade capacity analysis); various trade routes analysis – Far East-ESAF, Middle East/Indian Sub-Continent-ESAF, Europe-ESAF, other East and Southern Africa Trades and dedicated Intra-ESAF services; specialised sections looking at Djibouti as an East Africa Gateway, main terminal operators active in ESAF; and ESAF General Economy Indicators.
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