Africa’s port utilisation currently exceeds 70%, says Aganga

Olusegun-Aganga22 June 2013, Lagos – Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, says the overall level of utilisation of African ports currently exceeds 70 per cent, adding that this is expected to reach 80 per cent over the next decade.

There are fears in some quarters that if the trend continues, the trend will result in worsening port congestion and constrained economic growth.

This is against the backdrop of the International Monetary Fund, IMF, projection that Nigeria’s gross domestic product, GDP, growth rate will be 7.2 per cent in 2013 and 7 per cent in 2014; with Africa overall forecasted to see economic growth of 5.5 percent this year.

Already, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, NEPAD, has estimated Africa’s infrastructure spending gap at $48 billion.

Aganga stated this in a meeting with senior APM Terminals leaders and a delegation of government officials and advisors in The Hague, as part of ongoing discussions on port infrastructure investment to promote Nigerian economic development through access to world-class logistics capabilities.

The minister said, in recognition of the increasing pressure on trade and economic performance, governments are partnering private terminal operators to accelerate infrastructure development, create new jobs and attract more investment from world markets through a competitive port system, such as the proposed new mega-port at Badagry, Nigeria.

“Ports are linked to the industrial development of the country and we welcome more port investment. We are excited about the Badagry port project and how this multi-purpose facility aligns with our industrial development plans for the nation”, he said.

The proposed Badagry mega-port project is one of many initiatives by APM Terminals. It was designed to modernise Africa’s infrastructure through aggressive investment in transportation infrastructure upgrades.

The Africa-Middle East Regional CEO of the firm, Mr. Peder Sondergaard, in his remarks at the meeting said: “Last year, APM Terminals committed more than $175 million in investments across our African portfolio. We want to continue this pace to serve the ambitions of Africa’s countries and people”.

According to Sondergaard, the new Badagry port promises to transform Nigeria’s global trade access by creating the most modern multi-purpose port on the African continent, with container, bulk, petrochemical and RoRo cargo-handling capability just 55 km (34 miles) from the city of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial and financial hub and fastest growing city, with a population size estimated as high as 20 million people.

The firm, which is one of the subsidiaries of the Danish logistic port operations giant, AP Moeller-Maersk Group, has interests in nine facilities in Africa with a robust pace of investments and improvements in progress and schedule.

In Monrovia, Liberia, a $145 million investment has rebuilt the quay wall, and will create a new container yard and gate complex, including lighting and new terminal handling equipment.

In Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, it is investing in port upgrades to boost capacity, and an APM Terminals-led consortium has been chosen as the preferred bidder to build and operate a second container facility, which will double current capacity by adding another 1.5 million TEU annual capacity, and will be able to accommodate vessels of 8,000 TEU capacity at one of West Africa’s busiest port hubs.

In Tema, Ghana, the company is investing $100 million in the local terminal operating company, Meridian Port Services to expand annual throughput capacity to 1 million TEU and introduce new container handling equipment.

In Apapa, Nigeria, it has invested $200 million since 2006, creating West Africa’s busiest container terminal, with throughput of 618,000 TEU in 2012, and Africa’s largest mobile harbour crane port.

An additional $135 million is being invested to expand annual capacity at the facility to 1.2 million TEU by early 2014. In Onne, Nigeria, the company is investing $30 million in upgrades, yard expansion, paving, new equipment and safety improvements to double the capacity of the West African Container Terminal, WACT.

Sondergaard said: “We see our African investment initiatives not only as an attractive business strategy, but also as a responsibility in promoting economic growth and social progress in underserved emerging markets”.

– This Day

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