Moving forward with sea freight

Analyses and obsevations from the Africa's key marine logistics enterprises, as containerisation increases across the continent


International shipping carries more than 90 per cent of world trade. According to recent reports, Africa's share of that transport is growing. The shipping analyst Alphaliner reports that record deliveries of container ships this year will add downward pressure on ocean freight rates, reversing the recent rally in vessel charter rates. Thirty-two ships with an aggregate capacity of 226,500 TEUs have been delivered in April 2011, the highest level of monthly deliveries, the market analyst said.

Shipyards handed over a further 41 vessels of 204,000 TEUs in May, bringing total deliveries in the first five months of the year to 688,000 TEUs. This flood of new capacity is hitting the market at a time when demand growth shows signs of slowing down. South China ports increased throughput only 2.2 per cent in the first three months of the year compared with 23.7 per cent in the same period in 2010. The 430,000 TEUs of new capacity delivered in April and May is equivalent to three per cent of the total cellular container fleet.

Total deliveries in 2011 are expected to reach 1.35mn TEUs, based on Alphaliner's figures, which are adjusted for delivery deferrals. A large number of the ships already delivered this year were deferred from 2009 and 2010. Many vessels were fully completed in 2010, but their commissioning was delayed at their owners' request. As a result, the cellular container ship fleet is projected to increase 8.6 per cent this year, including provisions for scrapping of older tonnage.

Meanwhile, 'Freight through the Economic Downturn' - a market research report published by Datamonitor, provides in-depth analysis of the global market and also breakdown analysis of sea freight segments and key trade lanes. The report includes an assessment of the position of sea freight in the context of the total logistics market, covering tankers, dry bulk, car carriers, LNG carriers and container shipping. All modes of transport globally were hit by the economic downturn in 2008 and 2009. This report offers insight into the impact on freight markets and market values and volumes in light of these industry changing events, with analysis and commentary on the trends and developments which affecting all sea freight segments, particulalry containerised shipping, and how they will recover from the economic downturn.

Developing crew competencies in the Maldives

Maldives Ports Limited, in partnership with Maritime Academy of Maldives, began a Competent Crew training programme for 13 employees in April 2011, which is scheduled for completion in July 2011. Topics covered include: safety equipment, fire fighting equipment, personal safety & environmental protection, first aid, general ship knowledge, steering a vessel, communication, and engine knowledge.

Angola's new jetty

A new jetty built for the port of Cabinda, in Angola, may start operating from September 2012, which would make it possible for two 130-metre ships to moor there at the same time, says the provincial deputy governor for business and the economy, Romão Macário Lembe. Construction of the jetty is in the hands of the China Gezhouba Group Company (CGGC). Lembe added that the new jetty would provide the province with a new economic dynamic by providing safer conditions to receive large ships and to handle cargo.

A new Namibian port and container handling cranes in South Africa, as SA logistics specialists reinforce European market presence

South Africa’s state-owned transport conglomerate Transnet has ordered three Konecranes Rail Mounted Gantry (RMG) cranes for intermodal operations in Johannesburg. The order is Konecranes’ first in South Africa for container handling equipment.
The yard cranes will go into operation at Johannesburg’s City Deep Container Terminal, with delivery scheduled for 2012.

City Deep Container Terminal is a key link in the country’s complex logistic network. It is the largest of six major inland terminals that connect with South Africa’s ports. Containers unloaded at various regional ports are transported to City Deep Container Terminal by rail before being dispatched by truck to their final destination. The new RMGs will load and unload containers between rail and truck. According to the Finland-headquartered manufacturer, the yard gantries will reduce the operation time on each train and increase the productivity of the terminal.

The RMG cranes are equipped with Active Load Control, which provides advanced anti-sway features and horizontal fine positioning, without hydraulics. They have a lifting capacity of 41 tonnes, lifting height of 11.5 metres and a span of 22.5 metres. They are equipped with a rotating trolley. These features improve product performance, which increases operational performance. Konecranes’ local branch in Johannesburg will take care of the local support and the preventive maintenance of the cranes during the first year of operation, as well as a RailQ inspection on the crane tracks, which gives three dimensional measurements of the rails, ensuring that the track remains according to tolerances.
“We look forward to the operational improvement and efficiency offered through Konecranes’ advanced product offering,” said Vernon Kretzschmar, procurement lead Gauteng, Transnet Capital Projects.

Meanwhile, Barloworld Logistics is working with Ship-Log to develop an efficient and effective link between European markets and South Africa. Barloworld Logistics is a supply chain and logistics management solutions provider in Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the Far East. Ship-Log is a Danish freight logistics company with a network in Germany, France, Netherland, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. Barloworld Logistics' Middle East operation has already experienced what it describes as "excellent service" from Ship-Log, which led to further exploration of synergies between the two organisations. Stephen Temple, MD of Barloworld Logistics South Africa’s Freight management and services, has commented that the new relationship would provide our clients with a more flexible and efficient service. Barloworld Logistics can therefore offer its customers and overseas partners quality freight management and services such as customs clearance, export documentation, air freight, sea freight, warehousing, local transport, demand planning, inventory management, project cargo and event cargo management across Africa, Middle East, the Far East and Europe.

And the Southern African situation improves with the prospect of a new port for Namibia. Gecko Namibia has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Namibian Ports Authority (NamPort) to build a new facility at Swakopmund, which will be aimed at the import and export of bulk commodities. The initiative includes three proposed chemical acid plants for sulphuric acid, soda ash and phosphoric acid, and will cost approximately $1.8bn. Completion of the port construction will open up an additional corridor along Africa's west coast of Africa.

Governmental backing for the building of Techobanine Port

The governments of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Botswana have committed to supporting the development of a deepwater port in Techobanine, in Mozambique’s Maputo province, with an interconnecting railway. A memorandum of understanding signed by the counries' respective govenments has set 2012 as the target for the possible launch of the project, which has an estimated cost of $7bn. The project is expected to take around four years to build on a plot of 30,000 hectares, of which 11,000 will comprise industrial facilities. Mozambique’s Transport and Communications Minister Paulo Zucula has confirmed that the private sector would be expected to provide funding for the project’s execution. The news comes at a time when investment in the coal industry in Tete province, in northwest Mozambique, is appraised as a leading investment phenomenon by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

“Investment in transport and other infrastructure in Tete is simultaneously the cause and effect of an economic boom in the region, which is the result of millions of dollars of investment in Mozambique’s emerging coal mining industry,” the EIU observed in a recent report on the Mozambican economy. The Tete corridor is an important logistics point for Mozambique and for the region, involving traffic destined for Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia, and investments underway are boosting its role as a platform. Investment in the mining industry and in infrastructure projects has contributed significantly to Mozambique’s recent economic growth, which is expected to reach 7.4 per cent, on average, in 2011 and 2012, according to the EIU.

West African port traffic increases...and decreases - amid calls for fresh investment

In Nigerian ports, traffic involving ocean-going ships increased from 4,832 vessels to 4,962 vessels in 2010, representing growth of 2.69 per cent. Gross tonnage at the combined ports reached 108,621,872 tons for 2010 compared with 97,796,560 tons in 2009. In all, 21,950 coastal vessels called at the ports in 2010, up from the 17,403 of 2009 - a 26.12 per cent annual improvement. Gross tonnage for this class of ship was 6,818,827 in 2010 compared with 5,747,640 the year before.

The Nigerian Ports Authority managing director, Omar Sulaiman said there will be further improvements in the current year and efforts will intensify in attracting more vessels, while the NPA develops and expands new port facilities with the aim of Nigerian ports becoming the hub ports of the West and Central African region.
Meanwhile, Ghanaian ports have also seen sharp increases of transit traffic - at the expense of conenctions to San Pedro, in Côte d'Ivoire. The ports of Tema and Takoradi in Ghana have gained from the difficulties merchants have had in gaining Ivorian access. According to the Ghana Shippers Authority, volumes of transit cargo going through Tema and Takoradi have increase is a result of the inability of merchants in Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali and other landlocked Wet African countries that prior to the outbreak of hostilities in Ivory Coast, made use of that country’s ports for all their import and export activities. One negative point is that Ghanaian traders have also lost business with Ivorian markets - notably, automotive parts operations and used clothing traders.

The situation in is improving, with the appointment of the ambitious Mr Hilaire Marcel Lamizana as Port of San Pedro's new CEO. Mr Lamizana's drive to improve the quality of the port's services might well translate into broader economic gains. However, Ghana's prospects are brightening with progress made on development of Tema - and Nigeria is looking forward with initiatives taken at Tin Can island.

Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority (GPHA) general manager Wisdom Segbefia has highlighted the challenges facing the country’s ports if they want to become important hub ports. Speaking at a seminar organised by the Tema branch of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, Segbefia said the ports lacked proper infrastructure, had inadequate funds for development, inadequate space and cumbersome cargo clearing procedures. Other constraints included having large volumes of uncleared cargo, congestion of trucks and lack of competition in the stevedoring business due to cargo allocation. Segbefia urged government to inject the needed capital into the operations of the two major ports in the country and to provide the necessary infrastructure for development and expansion. He pointed out that GPHA had the potential of developing Tema into a regional container gateway and Takoradi into a regional oil and gas services hub.

And the Nigerian Federal Government has finally unveiled a 25-year Ports Master Plan for sustainable development of the nation’s seaports. Minister of Transport, Alhaji Yusuf Suleiman, who disclosed this at a ministerial briefing in Abuja, also revealed that plans have been concluded for the rehabilitation of Koko port, Tin Can Island port quay wall, and Julius Berger terminal. Suleiman said the rehabilitation of the Tin Can Island port quay wall and apron as well as rehabilitation of Port Harcourt quay were in progress, just as the procurement process for the construction of Bonny Jetty, Calabar Finger Jetty, Port Harcourt Finger Jetty and Marina Jetty, CMS, have started in earnest.

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