Michael is a very good Swedish friend of mine who is a port administrator at a busy dry bulk port in Sweden. He is as well a friend of Africa and has visited more than four different African countries and still counting. Together we have exchanged lots of correspondence while sharing great knowledge and ideas between each other as he follows developments in Africa very keenly. In his recent email, whiles addressing some maritime issues (as usual) he shared some very interesting and candid opinions which I decided to share with my readers,
Good forenoon Dennis,
Nice to read something from you, I understand the business environment in Ghana is tough and the present Ghana Government policies are not helping much. I read your well written article about the Panama Canal and the effect it has to African ports, well, it is a fact that the Canal is of great importance to worldwide shipping.
However, there is a new canal project being planned through Nicaragua, the Chinese are financiers. So the Panama Canal might have a strong competitor in the decades to come. As you might very well know, some people in the shipping industry now claim the so called mega ships, the post panama container ships, are a major economic disaster. Yes, due to scale economics.
The transport price of a container is low, but the ships can only be used for certain trades and the number of ports able to accept them is limited. So these ships are not flexible. So as usual, all issues have as a coin, two sides.
Am still in serious consideration of the project plans I had last year ( and still have) that I got after visiting Gambia. In Ghana too I realize cement has during the past years gone up very much putting great strains on the “ordinary people”.
I had tried to discuss matters in different circles but it is hard to get people here to invest in Africa. I am going to be very personal with you, I like Africa, apart from Gambia I think Ghana is the best country in Africa, but the overall image of Africa and Africans is very low in Europe.
Many people here say nothing good comes out of Africa. Corruption, corrupt Presidents, civil wars, political unrest such as military coups recently as in Burkina Faso, terrible terror attacks by fundamental Muslim movements in Nigeria, Kenya, and Mali, internet scammers, AIDS, drug smugglers, and now the Ebola outbreak does not make anything easier.
I have a hard time trying to explain what Africa is really like, and that not all Africans are scammers. As you know, I have for the past 4-5 years been to Ghana, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Gambia. And following the debate in Ghana carefully, many Ghanaians seem doubtful if the large oil and gas income will trickle down to the ” man on the street”. Regretfully a large part of the oil income will find its way into the pockets of the political leaders. I hope all that makes sense to you, looking forward to your comments.
Best regards, Michael
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