Africa, and for that matter the West African sub region has seen lots of trade activities within the past couple of years with a fairly sustained high GDP growth rates and even more impressive projections into the future. The increase in trading activities and the future projections of the possibility of the region becoming one of the most vibrant in terms of trade on the continent has led to a comprehensive modernization drive in ports across the sub region with infrastructure upgrades and the construction of new deepwater terminals.
As trade increases, Ship owners and shipping lines are continually looking for ports that can accommodate larger vessels as they seek to enjoy economies of scale forcing coastal states to gear up and position their ports as the the preferred choice (port of call) in the sub region.
In 2012, a report by the “oxford analytica” mentioned Ghana, ivory coast and Nigeria as favorites in leading the race for a regional hub status. In that same year the “Portstrategy” a renowned maritime magazine in a publication also strongly considered and scored Nigeria a 7 out of a maximum of 10 points in the race for a hub status in the region. Angola was scored 2 out of 10 as it was seen to be struggling to meet its own port capacity needs let alone fulfill a regional function, Ghana was however not considered in that debate.
Two years down the line , the odds seem to have shifted to consider Ghana as a strong contender with the magazine’s new report suggesting that “Ghana ups the ante” in the race for a regional hub status as a results of the country’s announcements of major port infrastructure projects.
New port facilities and installations are expected to come on board in the very near future across prime locations in the sub region including the port of Lome in Togo.
The Ivory Coast recovering from a decade of political turmoil has also launched ambitious development plans focused heavily on renewing long-neglected infrastructure as well as develop new ones with reports suggesting that The Bollore group (a French industrial conglomerate) aims to double Abidjan Port Container Capacity By 2015.
Nigeria is also taking pragmatic steps in order to be preferred as the port of choice. The country which some years ago wouldn’t have been favored due to certain bureaucratic bottlenecks, poor cargo handling, frequent port labour unrest among other things is now strongly being considered to stand a big chance of becoming the regional hub due to its market size advantage.
In fact some reports suggest that a greater percentage of import to the entire sub region is targeted at the Nigerian market making it a possible choice for the international shipping community.
Ghana in its quest to not be left out of this “race”, has also announced major port infrastructural development plans such as the on-going expansion works at the Takoradi port, the development of a free port at Atuabo in addition to the completion of the Boankra inland port with a linkage to the Takoradi and the Tema port through the development of the Eastern corridor rail lines.
More recently the country also announced the commencements of major expansion works at the Tema port and its access roads. All this develoments is aimed at strategically positioning Ghana’s ports as Gateways into the West African sub region.
Also Read A LOOK AT THE OTHER SIDE OF THE TEMA PORT EXPANSION
Generally, the race for a “gateway” port status in the sub region is a fierce one and some industry experts believe that this may lead to a split of hubbing activity between all these locations but with the first two or three terminals on-line grabbing the main part of transshipment activity.
It has become very important however to note these recent port developments on the West Coast of Africa, which are much needed to secure supply chain efficiency.
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