APM Terminals: Ports Development Can Boost Africa Trade
APM Terminals’ Director of Business Development and Infrastructure Investments for the Africa-Middle East Region, Reik Mueller described a new model for transportation planning and development in West Africa in which port and terminal operations shift focus from “container lifts” toward “integrated container transport solutions” at the 3rd Annual Africa Ports, Logistics & Supply Chain Conference which opened March 19.
“Dry ports and inland markets are the untapped, overlooked opportunity markets of the future in Africa” Mr. Mueller stated as he addressed the topic of “Dry Ports and Inland Corridors” on the opening day of the two-day event.
APM Terminals, a leading port and terminal operating company in Africa, currently operates nine port facilities in eight West African countries, as well as Morocco’s Tanger-Med port, and Egypt’s Suez Canal Container terminal and 35 Inland Services facilities.
Although the International Monetary Fund has projected a 5.5% economic growth rate for sub-Saharan Africa this year, and a 5.3% increase for 2013, obstacles to trade, particularly concerning cargo movements between neighboring countries, will prevent the full benefit of such economic progress from being felt across the African population.
Nearly one in three African countries is landlocked, accounting for 26% of the continent’s landmass, and 25% of the population, or more than 200 million people, Mr. Mueller noted, indicating that current population growth trends, including the development of population megacities distant from coastal locations will become powerful drivers of inland markets.
“Ports will compete to become preferred gateways to move goods efficiently to inland cities and landlocked countries” said Mr. Mueller, adding “The future prosperity of these nations depends on access to the global economy and new markets; high-growth markets need inland infrastructure and logistics capabilities along development corridors. The ports that can provide the best and most efficient connectivity to those Inland markets will be the winners.”
Citing the success in reducing port congestion through Inland Container Depots (ICDs) now in operation outside of the APM Terminals operated port of Luanda, Angola, the Meridian Port Services joint venture in Tema, Ghana, and the ICD which was opened four km from APM Terminals Apapa, the busiest container terminal in Nigeria and all of West Africa, Mr. Mueller made the case for integrated transportation solutions.
“Importers are not going to wait for improved infrastructure; the cargo will simply move to other ports” said Mr. Mueller.
Dredging Today Staff, March 20, 2012; Image: apmterminals