The current ports development in the country which includes the ongoing Takoradi port expansion expected to add about 10 new berths, the announcements of the expansion of the Tema port adding an additional 5 berths and the recent signed deal for the development of a free port at Atuabo would increase the number of vessels that call at the country’s ports (all things being equal). More vessels calling our ports would mean more auxiliary services demanded by these vessels.
This post is part of a series to suggest some possible business and investment opportunities that could come along with the expansion works. This particular post would focus on ship chandling.
A ship chandler is one who specializes in providing supplies for ships ranging from provisions like canned drinks, canned foods, vegetables, bottled water, fresh water to more technical supplies like bunker fuel and chemicals for deck cleaning and degreasing. In which ever area one specializes, there would always be some kind of request made by a vessel.
Some chandlers specializes in bunker fuel in which case the order is placed by the vessel and the chandler has the duty to source for the type of fuel from a fuel supply company to be delivered to the vessel.
Other chandlers also specializes in supplying fresh water, thus water needed on the vessel for washing, bathing or cooking whiles majority also concentrates on supplying provisions such as bottled water, canned drinks and food, toiletries, paper etc some crew that regularly call at the port even request for recharge cards.
To be a ship chandler in Ghana, one very important step is to register with the Ghana Ports and Harbors Authority (GPHA) which would enable you get a license and a pass into the port as a service provider. Secondly it may be ideal to have access to a vehicle owned or hired with which you can deliver orders on time to vessels at “shipside”.
Another important consideration would be how to get clients for your business. Ideally most vessels would like to contact you through an e-mail where they can discuss orders and also compare prices from other chandlers before opting for your service. In this regards an online or internet presence is very important as a chandler to help secure potential orders. If you have some capital to spare, then you can have a corporate website which adds more professionalism to your brand. Having a website alone might not be enough but also try to list or advertise on certain active online platforms especially maritime or shipping related as some ship captains would search this classifieds for possible chandlers when they are visiting a country. (you can contact ghanashippingguide for a possible advertisement quote)
In addition to having and effective online presence, it would be ideal to form a rapport with some ship agencies in the industry as they would readily recommend your services to vessels that they also work for.
One challenge with ship chandling in Ghana is the scarcity or unavailability of certain specific products requested by ships and some ships would sometimes hold on and make orders at their next port of call (in another country), However the returns on investment in this business is very lucrative and it is also a very necessary part of the shipping industry as it relieves a ships’ crew from the trouble of finding local stores in a country where they dock and also saves them the trouble with the country’s immigration policies and having to hold its local currency as well.
In the nutshell, this is a viable business that one can consider and easily start as it may need little technical skills as well as less capital depending on the area you chose to specialize. Also note that, getting clients is only one aspect of this business but delivering the exact product ordered on time ensures a great customer relation and repeated business each time such vessels call at the nations’ port.
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