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Transforming Africa’s ports

Six recommendations for a world-class port sector


On the back of the success of the African logistics sector report published in 2019, the AFRICA CEO FORUM, in partnership with Okan, has repeated the experience, centring its attention on ports this year.

Through numerous expert opinions, case study success stories and statistical analyses, the report breaks down the multiple changes and trends holding back the development of the port sector. The report provides six pragmatic and ambitious recommendations – such as better structure public investment, eradicate operational inefficiencies, mobilise private investment through public-private partnerships, improve business climate and fast-track integrated industrial port projects – that seek to accelerate the modernisation of the port sector.

At a time when 80% of trade in Africa moves through ports, the sector’s modernisation is pivotal in order for it to be able to support the continent’s economic transformation, industrialisation and regional integration. Despite the immense amount of progress made over the past 15 years, including the emergence of world-class African ports able to accommodate next-generation vessels and a significant increase in private investment ($15bn over the period), the development of Africa’s ports continues to be uneven.

What’s more, there is still considerable room for improvement: out of Africa’s top 20 ports, only Egypt, Morocco and South Africa had a cargo handling capacity of more than 4 million TEU in 2018. If Africa wants to draw attention to its vast resources, including its mining and agricultural products, and be able to export them, then it will need efficient ports.

To address these issues, the AFRICA CEO FORUM, in partnership with the firm Okan, is publishing an exclusive report that formulates pragmatic recommendations aimed at accelerating the modernisation of Africa’s port sector. Better structure public investment, eradicate operational inefficiencies, mobilise private investment through public-private partnerships, improve business climate and fast-track integrated industrial port projects: from Tangier to Durban, not to mention Djibouti, Port Said and Lomé, this report draws on African case study success stories, as well as the many challenges holding back sector development, to provide recommendations intended to meet investors’ and entrepreneurs’ needs.

At a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has plunged the world into an unprecedented economic crisis, the report analyses its short-term impact – e.g., the reorganisation of operations, the drastic slowdown of trade flows and problems arising due to overloaded storage facilities – on the business activity and development of Africa’s port sector.

It is also focused on taking stock of impacts – ones that are difficult to clearly grasp – on the sector in the medium to long term, starting with the acceleration of digitalisation, the promotion of regional trade and the inking of a series of port terminal privatisations and concession processes.

“Much as the Africa CEOs Survey 2020 published last September, the release of this exclusive report resonates with the AFRICA CEO FORUM’s mission to highlight the challenges African businesses face, offer concrete solutions and make the voice of the private sector heard on the continent’s major development challenges,” says Amir Ben Yahmed, founder and president of the AFRICA CEO FORUM.

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