Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 25 February 2024

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News commencing Sunday 25 February 2024.  Click on headline to go direct to story : use the BACK key to return.  Additional news reports will be included as they are received.

FIRST VIEW:   Richards Bay


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 FIRST VIEW: Richards Bay

Port of Richards Bay

The port of Richards Bay. Much in the news over the past year for many of the wrong reasons, remains South Africa’s premier port in terms of cargo volumes handled despite an offset in calendar year 2023. Consisting almost exclusively of bulk commodities, the port registered a cargo throughput in 2023 of 77,849,019 tonnes, which was half a million tonnes less than that of its neighbouring KZN port, Durban, an anomaly that will surely be righted in this present year of 2024.

Opened officially on 1 April 1076, the port consists of two ‘halves’ – one is the massive Richards Bay Coal Terminal, privately owned and operated, and the other in the hands of Transnet to handle a variety of dry bulk commodities, including ores, minerals and wood chips. The port also handles a number of chemical and oil products and is due soon to become the first South African port to operate a full-scale LNG terminal, with the Vopak & TPL Consortium Venture being awarded the concession to design, develop, construct, finance, operate, and maintain the LNG terminal for a period of 25 years.

The image here shows the area of the port that excludes RBCT and the liquid bulk berths, showing instead the 14 berths for dry bulk handling, with terminal areas on view on the landside as well as railway assembly and marshalling lines. At extreme right can be seen two of the wood chip pyramids.

Picture:  TNPA

Africa Ports & Ships

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As Port Maputo gears up, Durban port is targeted!

The Port of Maputo

Terry Hutson
Africa Ports & Ships

The Port of Maputo has its eyes on collecting some of the business that the Port of Durban takes for granted.

It’s not that Durban is physically unable to handle the sort of business that Maputo now threatens. It’s more a case of Durban port seeming incapable of handling all the business that comes its way in an efficient manner.

Consciously aware of this, Port Maputo has set its sights on moving in and capturing South African business before Transnet is able to get its act in gear and and ahead of it recovering from a growing lack of confidence felt by many of its major customers.

Many of those in Maputo’s sights are exporters of commodities that are based in Mpumalanga and Limpopo, provinces that are closer to Maputo than Durban, hence there are excellent logistical reasons why they should indeed look to Maputo instead.

If geography was the only criteria then Durban should give up right now and allow Maputo to take that share of the business, instead of fighting to retain every scrap it can. But that is not how good businesses operate.

After all, the port of Durban has been competing for the major share of business from those particular areas since, well, the time of the rinderpest.

Does any self-respecting, large and successful supermarket chain sit back quietly every time a new smaller competitor opens down the road, or does it go full out, marketing with special offers and services to ensure it retains every bit of business possible.

With that in mind, take a look at any photograph or diagram of the two ports. Durban has over 40 active berths (53 officially), Maputo around a dozen. A Maputo was once likened, by its then chief executive, it is akin to Maydon Wharf.

That’s not to suggest the Mozambican port lacks a right to improve itself or to compete vigorously for its own success and survival – that is a key aspect of free enterprise and is a credit to Maputo’s two main operators, DP World and Durban’s own Grindrod, for all the impressive improvements and achievements introduced since the port was first privatised.

There, that ugly word non-existent in the vocabulary of our trade unions, Transnet and the current government.

Yet it’s exactly because of the success so far of the privatisation of the port by the Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC) that Maputo is now in a position to target the port of Durban and to say, as MPDC chief executive Osório Lucas did this past week, that funds were available to increase cargo handling capacity, to “re-qualify the port of Maputo” and to “capitalize on the surplus cargo handled at the port of Durban.”

Note his diplomatic choice of words. They are not just looking for surplus cargo!

“We are a Port in direct competition with South Africa, which has very clear plans, from the privatization of the Port of Durban, which was awarded to a Philippine concessionaire [not quite an accurate comment but close], as well as investment plans in the order of 5 billion dollars in next 10 years,” Lucas reminded.

DCT2 Container Terminal, potentially the best in sub-Saharan Africa. Factually one of the worst performing.

In Durban it’s referred to as a partnership, not privatisation, and it only involves one of the container terminals.

Maputo faces many of the same challenges faced by the Durban port. An oversupply of trucks arriving daily at the port gates. A railway that doesn’t always perform to full satisfaction or in the manner intended. Too many ships arriving at the same time and having to anchor idly outside.

The difference between the two ports lies in size and volume. And perhaps work ethic?

Maputo has a single container berth of 300 metres, compared with 6 large berths (potentially 8) at Durban plus a further two container berths on the Point. Maputo has a single berth for reefer vessels, Durban has four, so you’d imagine the odds were stacked in favour of Durban – right?

Wrong! There appears to be a different work ethic in our north-eastern neighbour port, or is it down to management input? It’s always difficult comparing large grapefruit with small naartjies.

To be fair to Transnet, the state-owned port company appears to be sincere in fixing its many wobbles, including the dismissal of several senior executives and a host of initiatives aimed at getting things right in a hurry. There’s nothing like a bit of old-fashioned ‘dire warnings’ from government to focus mindsets.

Meanwhile the clock is ticking and while there are signs of progress, in the eyes of its customers, things are not yet coming right quickly enough.

Ships are still bypassing Cape Town, and now that that’s happening increasingly with Durban as well. Just this week Maersk, one of the two largest users of South African ports, and especially Durban, announced that due to “the waiting time in Durban remaining high” Maersk has decided to extend the omission of its Durban call until end April 2024.”

No matter how you look at things, it’s not good business when a major shipping line boycotts your port with one of its services yet Maersk is not the first and only line to do so.

Back in Maputo, meanwhile, the port authority is positioning itself strategically, in anticipation of Transnet eventually getting itself right and “adjusting its ports before we do.”

One suspects that Mr Lucas is tactfully saying “let’s capitalise on Transnet’s problems while they have them.”

Lucas pointed out this week that more than 70% of the cargo handled at the Port of Maputo arrives from South Africa, with emphasis on ores such as coal, chromium, nickel, phosphate and vermiculite.

“We are not a port that can afford to define its own destiny by itself,” he rightly pointed out. “If South Africa takes action to adjust its ports, before we do so, this could have a [negative] impact on the thousands of lives that depend on it.”

So Maputo has its own challenges and opportunities – as for that matter it always has, right back to the days when it was Lourenço Marques and the rinderpest was about to blight the land. The challenge for it remains that it is not South Africa and there’s always a natural preference to keep things at home even when it comes to which port to use.

That’s provided everything else is equal, such as efficiency.

That was something South Africa once enjoyed a reputation for across Africa.

Unfortunately that reputation has largely gone, and with it some of the port, rail and road business that was almost exclusively its own. Other port and rail services are issuing challenges of their own, not the least that which is coming from Port Maputo. As Transnet battles with its own ghosts and demons it might well consider keeping a closer eye on what its neighbours are achieving, and Maputo in particular.

Finally, a salient message from Mr Lucas of MPDC can ring equally true for Transnet and the South African port system.

The Port of Maputo employs two thousand workers directly and 10 thousand indirectly. It has around 670 small and medium-sized companies that provide internal services.

“Therefore,” says Lucas, “the collapse or reduction of volumes at the Port of Maputo affects the MPDC and the entire society. That is why we asked the Government to extend the [privatisation] contract, starting in 2023. The Government challenged us to reevaluate our plans to strategically reposition the country.”

MPDC will now run the port of Maputo until 2058. Most the cargo it will handle will come from, or go to, South Africa.

Added 25 February 2024


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WHARF TALK: seismic support vessel – THOR FRIGG

In June 2018 the seismic support vessel Thor Frigg was at work off the KZN coast, and entered the port of Durban on several occasions as necessary. Shown here is the vessel in the port entrance channel on one of those occasions. Picture by Keith Betts

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

The arrival in South African ports of vessels connected to the oil and gas industry throws up a vast array of different vessel types, all designed for specific aspects of this incredibly complicated, and highly technical industry. Of all the areas of oil and gas production there is one that, in South African terms, seems to get the extinction rebellion mob frothing at the mouth, and it is the area of seismic surveys.

Despite the fact that the coagulation of all parts of the green brigade have spent the last number of years trying to prevent the South African Oil and Gas Industry from carrying out Seismic Surveys in South African waters, they have only managed to curtail one of them, based on erroneous data, and a sympathetic judge. Since that judgement has been made, there have actually been two approved by the authorities, with one completed, and one currently underway, both on the west coast.

Maybe the west coast, due to it not having the romance of coastal areas like the Garden Route, the Wild Coast, and the Hibiscus Coast, does not seem to attract the conservation protesters, which is why there is little, if any, tub thumping and floor stamping in regard to these seismic surveys. In many cases, the old adage of out of sight, out of mind, seems to be the driver.

Yet, offshore the Northern Cape, albeit in Namibian waters due to agreed national ocean boundaries, seismic surveys have been going on almost continuously for over a year, with one currently in progress, with hardly a peep from protesters north of the border. The Namibian government have set up a Sovereign Wealth Fund from the proceeds of this industry and, as with a fund like Norway and the Shetland Islands, it will be used for the benefit of all its citizens, especially those most vulnerable.

Thor Frigg. Cape Town, 19 February 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Such a fund in South Africa would do wonders for some sections of her citizens, if such a fund was protected from official finger dipping, and unofficial looting. However, if there is no output from this industry because a section of the community was preventing its development, then it is never going to be realised. Climate change is about the burning of fossil fuels, not about the correct use of fossil fuels.

The positive products produced from the refining of a barrel of oil are too numerous to mention. However, without them the protesters would not be able to function, unless they wore woolen clothing, rode wooden bicycles on unpaved dirt roads, and didn’t need their designer sunglasses, laptops, and mobile phones. None of these items of life are about the burning of that barrel of oil. But to get that barrel of oil, you need to find it first, and for that you need to undertake a seismic survey.

On 19th February, at 08:00 in the morning, the seismic support vessel ‘Thor Frigg’ (IMO 9679048) arrived off Cape Town harbour, from her survey area off the Northern Cape, and proceeded into the Duncan Dock and went alongside the Repair Quay, an almost sure sign that she was in for bunkers, stores, and fresh provisions, and possibly some engineering support.

Thor Frigg. Cape Town, 19 February 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2015 by Besiktas shipyard at Altinova in Turkey, ‘Thor Frigg’ is 64 metres in length and has a deadweight of 1,750 tons. She is a diesel electric vessel, and has four Yanmar 6EY22ALW generators providing 1,000 kW each, which provide power to two Berg BCP760F controllable pitch propellers, producing 1,550 kW each, with both being linked to two Rolls-Royce FM rudders, and giving her a service speed of 13 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes a Scania DI12-62M emergency generator providing 260 kW. For added manoeuvrability she has a bow Schottel pumpjet SPJ132 RD-L thruster providing 650 kW. She has an ice classification of ICE 1A which allows her to navigate in first year Baltic Sea with a thickness of up to 0.8 metres, and in first year Polar ice with a thickness between 0.3 metres and 0.7 metres.

She has an aft working deck with an area of 300 m2, and a deck strength of 5 tons/m2. To transfer heavier cargo around the deck, and over the side, ‘Thor Frigg’ has an A-Lift crane capable of lifting 12 tons. Her seismic support work requires her to be able to tow disabled vessels out of the way of the Seismic Survey vessel, and for this she has a bollard pull of 50 tons.

Thor Frigg. Cape Town, 19 February 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Owned by Seismic Support Ltd., of Hósvik in the Faroe Islands, ‘Thor Frigg’ is operated by P/F Thor, also of Hósvik, and is managed by Thor Offshore Services, also of Hósvik. She is one of four sisterships, all of which were built to a specification from Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS) of Oslo in Norway. The sisterships were all built to provide support to the PGS fleet of Ramform seismic survey vessels, and are all on long term charter to PGS for this requirement.

Currently ‘Thor Frigg’ provides seismic support duties to the seismic survey vessel ‘Ramform Atlas’, which is one of four sisterships, and the second built of the ‘Titan Class’ of seismic survey vessel. The ‘Titan Class’ are the largest seismic survey vessels in the world. Almost as wide, as they are long, ‘Ramform Atlas’ is 104 metres in length and has a beam of 70 metres, which also makes her class the widest vessels, at the waterline, in the world.

The role of ‘Thor Frigg’ as a seismic survey vessel is very much that of a multi-role vessel. She is required to act as a guard vessel for the ‘Ramform Atlas’ and communicate with all other vessels in the vicinity to ensure that they remain aware of the exclusion zone around her, as well as to act as a chase vessel to prevent any vessel from crossing into either the path of ‘Ramform Atlas’, or from sailing across her towed seismic arrays.

Ramform Sovereign, sistership of Ramform Atlas now off the northern West Coast. Sovereign was in Durban , 17 March 2018.  From this angle the vessel looks ‘normal’.  Picture by Trevor Jones

She is also to act as an emergency towing vessel in the event of another vessel breaking down in the path of ‘Ramform Atlas’, and remove any floating obstacles, or anything that might present a surface danger, ahead of the Seismic survey vessel. She is also able to refuel the seismic survey vessel, whilst at sea, and act as both a transport and accommodation vessel to the seismic survey vessel in the event of crew changes in those areas pf the world where no offshore helicopter support is available. For this purpose she has accommodation for 10 crew, and up to 46 supernumeries.

The arrival of ‘Thor Frigg’ is South African waters was on 22nd December 2023 when she made a 9 hour call at Saldanha Bay. She then arrived in Cape Town for the first time on 3rd January 2024 and remained alongside until 6th January, when she returned to the survey area. She then made two further visits to Saldanha Bay, the first visit being between 15th and 17th January, and a short 3 hour visit on 20th January. Her last call at Cape Town occurred on 8th February, when she was alongside for 18 hours.

It is not the first time that ‘Thor Frigg’ has been acting as a Seismic Support vessel in South African waters. Back in 2018, between March and May, she supported the ‘Ramform Sovereign’ which was conducting a 3D seismic survey, on behalf of the Petroleum Agency South Africa (PASA), in the Durban Basin, between Durban and Port Shepstone, offshore of KwaZulu-Natal.

Stern view of the Ramform vessel, from where the streamers will extend at sea. Ramform Sovereign, Durban March 2018. Picture by Trevor Jones

This survey covered an offshore area of 3,114 km, in a water depth that varied between 1,000 and 3,000 metres, and took place almost exclusively between 40 and 80 nautical miles off the coast, i.e. over the horizon, and her closest point to the coast in one instance was 27 nautical miles. Her towed array consisted of 10 streamers covering a length of 8,025 metres. Both ‘Thor Frigg’ and ‘Ramform Sovereign’ called into Durban for logistical reasons, during the course of the survey.

Her current seismic survey support to ‘Ramform Atlas’ is whilst conducting a 3D survey for Impact Oil and Gas, in the Orange Basin Deep, between Hondeklip Bay and St. Helena Bay. Again, her survey area is over the horizon, and her closest approach to the Western, or Northern Cape coasts is 118 nautical miles. The survey started in January and is expected to cover a period of 127 days, or just over 4 months.

Overhead view of Ramform Atlas in operation, one of the oddest looking ships. Picture Geo365

Back in December 2015, ‘Thor Frigg’ rescued a sinking cargo ship in the English Channel, which got into distress during ‘Storm Desmond’. The general cargo coaster ‘EMS Majestic’, en route from Rotterdam to St. Malo in France, issued a Mayday call whilst in the Dover Strait, as she was taking on water, and her main engine had failed. Using her towing capabilities, ‘Thor Frigg’ attached a tow line to the stranded vessel, and undertook a 10 hour tow to bring ‘EMS Majestic’ to the safety of Portsmouth harbour.

Her current logistical call in Cape Town was complete after 32 hours alongside, and at 16:00 on 20th February, ‘Thor Frigg’ sailed from Cape Town, bound once more to undertake her support duties to the ‘Ramform Atlas’, which has remained offshore for the duration of the survey thus far. For the the Nomenclature fan, ‘Thor Frigg’ has the name of two Viking Gods, namely ‘Thor’ from which our word for Thursday is derived, and ‘Frigg’ from which our word for Friday is derived.

Added 25 February 2024


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KZN Ships in Port Update

The RoRo vessel Grande Gabon which was at anchor outside Durban when the lists below were compiled on Sunday 25 February. Picture from an earlier call by Trevor Jones

Africa Ports & Ships

It does not appear that Transnet is continuing to issue daily Port Recovery bulletins, or if they are then Africa Ports & Ships is not receiving them.

To at least provide some sense of what the ships in port situation is, including the important list of ships at anchor outside, here is a basic list compiled from AIS information available earlier on Sunday 25 February 2024.

While providing this detail it is worth repeating that ships at both ports are arriving and/or departing throughout the day hence there can be more, or less, ships at either port at a later time.

For names of vessels in port please consult our Ship Movements pages for either port.

Ships in port of Durban Sunday 25 February 2024.

Island View – 6 tankers
Bluff – 1 bulker
Pier 1 – 1 bulker
DCT 1 – 2 container ships
DCT 2 – 4 containerships
Maydon Wharf – 1 container, ship, 2 general cargo, 1 wood chip carrier
T Jetty & R – 1 car carrier, 1 general cargo, 1 reefer
Point – 2 container ships, 1 general cargo

Total 23 vessels, excludes ship repair, fishing vessels and departmental.

Durban Outer Anchorage:

9 container ships
4 bulk carriers
1 RoRo vessel
8 tankers
SBM – 1 tanker

Total 23 vessels

Ships in port at Richards Bay

In port 25 February 2025.

RBCT – 3 bulkers
Dry Bulk and MPT berths – 9 bulkers, 1 general cargo

Total 22 vessels

Richards Bay Outer anchorage:

9 bulkers

Added 25 February 2024


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Cape Morgan Lighthouse, Eastern Cape – Sixty years of service

Picture: Morgan Bay Tourism

Edited by Paul Ridgway
Africa Ports & Ships

Earlier this month it was reported from Cape Town by Transnet National Ports Authority that Cape Morgan Lighthouse was marking 60 years of service this month. It is said to be the second youngest of ten lighthouses along the Eastern Cape coast.

It was first lit on the night of 5 February 1964.

Cape Morgan Lighthouse is situated three kilometres west of the Great Kei River mouth. The 12-metre aluminium lattice tower has a square daymark and a red lantern house. It is fitted with an LED lantern with a character of two flashes every 10 seconds.

Unmanned operation

The lighthouse is automated and is not manned. Scheduled maintenance is carried out by teams from Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) in East London.

During scheduled maintenance visits, TNPA employees check and service the light, the lantern house glazing, the lattice tower, and the standby diesel engine.

Picture: TNPA

Before the electrification of the light in May 1980, the lighthouse was powered by diesel generators that ran 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The lighthouse still has one diesel generator on site, that is used as back-up.

Other lighthouses in the Eastern Cape with their dates of establishment are: Deal (1973), South Sand Bluff (1931), Mbashe (1926), Cape Hermes (1904), Great Fish Point (1898), Hood Point (1895), Seal Point (1878), Bird Island (1852) and Cape Recife (1851).

TNPA responsibilities

TNPA is mandated by the National Ports Act, 2005 (Act No. 12 of 2005) to provide, operate and maintain lighthouses and other marine aids to navigation (AtoNs) to assist the navigation of vessels within commercial port limits and along the coast of South Africa.

On a matter of nomenclature a marine AtoN is defined as: ‘A device, system or service, external to vessels, designed and operated to enhance safe and efficient navigation of individual vessels and/or vessel traffic.’

Lighthouses, beacons, and buoys are the most common types of visual AtoNs.

Virtual aids to navigation

Virtual AtoNs are new technology that use digital signals to warn of dangers in specific locations, without the need for physical buoys or lighthouses. The digital signals are transmitted from Automatic Identification System (AIS) stations and are received by AIS units onboard vessels. Large vessels – such as container ships and passenger ships – are required to carry AIS under IMO mandate. Smaller vessels do not have to carry AIS and therefore, visual marine AtoNs are retained in service.

International standards

TNPA AtoNs conform to the standards set by the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA). South Africa, represented at IALA by TNPA, and is a founder member of IALA in 1957.

Added 25 February 2024


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Gabon’s Owendo Container Terminal linked by new bridge

Owendo Container & Multipurpose Terminal, Gabon

Africa Ports & Ships

In mid February 2024, Owendo Container Terminal (OCT) in Gabon commissioned a new bridge which directly connects the old port (NOIP Zone) with the new OCT terminal situated within the Gabon Port Management (GPM) zone.

Having the bridge eliminates previous inefficiencies and streamlines container movement within the port while marking another successful infrastructural project.

This critical infrastructure project, costing over 2 billion CFA francs (USD 3.196 million), is part of OCT’s stated intention of supporting the Gabonese State in the development and modernization of port infrastructure.

This follows the agreement signed in August 2022 with the Port Authority, the Office of Ports and Harbours of Gabon (OPRAG) and the Gabon Port Management Company (GPM) with a view to guaranteeing the safety of goods on the one hand, and to solving the problems of traffic flow within the port of Owendo on the other hand.

Gabon and the port of Owendo

The project signifies OCT’s commitment to supporting Gabon’s port modernization efforts and sets a new standard for sustainable port development in Gabon, said Laurent Goutard, Managing Director of OCT.

“The establishment of a single customs office brings about several significant advantages. Enhanced security measures are a prominent benefit, as goods undergo stricter control, minimizing potential security risks,” he said.

The bridge’s contribution to smoother traffic flow within the port is helping alleviate congestion and facilitating faster, more efficient movement of containers.

Additionally, the centralized customs control results in simplified procedures for customs brokers, streamlining their processes.

Importantly, this centralized approach will translate to faster deliveries, benefitting importers, exporters, and ocean carriers by ensuring quicker container availability and delivery, ultimately enhancing overall operational efficiency across the logistics chain.

With its focus on efficiency, security, and environmental responsibility, this project will serve as a model for the future of the country’s port infrastructure. Labelled Green Terminal by Bureau Veritas, OCT hopes to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by more than 300 tons per year by simplifying mobility, operations, and procedures.

Added 25 February 2024


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Spectacular bridge to connect Mombasa with mainland

Mombasa’s proposed Gateway Bridge linking Mombasa Island with the mainland

Africa Ports & Ships

Africa’s longest bridge, the Mombasa Gateway, reached a further stage late last year with the signing of a Ksh260 billion deal (USD 1.781bn) to move forward with the construction of Africa’s longest bridge, the Mombasa Gateway. Also moving forward is the development of the Dongo Kundu Special Economic Zone (SEZ).

The SEZ is being connected to the mainland also via the Mwache bridge of 660 metres – see video below.

The Master Plan was developed by JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency), the key development partner at the port of Mombasa.

The environment is set to enjoy benefits with the new bridge that will replace the old causeway connecting the island of Mombasa with the mainland, which has restricted the flow of water. Vehicle traffic flow on the bridge will be the main beneficiary.

Once complete, the 1.4km Gateway bridge will comprise four traffic lanes and will have a height of 69-metres at mid-point, providing space for the largest of ships to cross beneath. The main span will be 660 metres in length.

The cable-stayed bridge will commence near King’orani Prison on Lumumba Road, before rising over the Mombasa railway station and traverse Moi Ave. The bridge will cross over the Likoni Channel, entering the Likoni side near the ruins of the Sultan of Zanzibar Place close to the Puma Primary School.

The height of 69 metres above the Channel allows for shipping to pass beneath. When completed the bridge will enable the closure of the ferry that has seen continued service since 1937.

Dongo Kundu SEZ projection with new berth facing existing Mombasa Container Terminals

Dongo Kundu SEZ

The Donga Kundu SEZ is being developed on a 3,000 acre piece of land and will comprise a free port and trade zone, industrial parks with logistics and warehousing and several other associated developments.

At the Dongo Kundu SEZ, a shipping berth costing $340 million will be constructed for the multi-purpose terminal serving the SEZ. This is to be developed as a public-private partnership venture and is vital to the success of the SEZ and envisaged free port.

Information made available by the Kenya Ports Authority says the berth will have a length of 300 metres and a depth alongside of 15 metres.

Already under construction at the SEZ is a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tank park with a capacity of 30,000 tonnes, being developed for the Tanzanian company Taifa, to serve the cooking gas industry in Kenya and Tanzania.

A report from 2023 stated the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority, Kenya’s commission responsible for technical and economic regulation of electricity, has granted several licenses to private investors to build bulk LPG facilities at the SEZ.

The Kenyan government is offering various incentives including exemption from excise duty to firms taking up space at the facilities planned.

Plans and proposals for the construction of the Dongo Kundu Special Economic Zone have been in the news for a number of years. It was reported earlier that approximately 86% of the financing by JICA would be in the form of a loan, with the balance as a grant.

The Japanese ambassador at that time described the ZEZ project as having the potential to completely change the economic dynamics of the region by ‘connecting the Indian Ocean with Africa.’

“There will be much more trade activity and investment, which will really revitalize the economic activity in this region and create jobs for the region and beyond,” Ambassador Okaniwa Ken said.

“With a location for regional pan-African operations — an area dedicated to the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) — we anticipate that the port will provide growing access to regional markets, and a catalyst for local private sector development.”

YouTube video of bridge (not the Gateway) construction taking place at Mombasa, all port and SEZ related.

Added 25 February 2024


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UNCTAD: Unprecedented shipping disruptions: Risk to global trade

Shipping and risks

Edited by Paul Ridgway
Africa Ports & Ships

Recent attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea have severely affected shipping through the Suez Canal, adding to existing geopolitical and climate-related challenges facing global trade and supply chains, UNCTAD says in a new report released on 22 February*.

The Red Sea crisis compounds the ongoing disruptions in the Black Sea due to the war in Ukraine, which have resulted in shifts in oil and grain trade routes and altered established patterns.

Additionally, the Panama Canal, a critical artery linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, is confronting a separate challenge. Dwindling water levels have raised concerns about the long-term resilience of global supply chains, underscoring the fragility of the world’s trade infrastructure.

UNCTAD estimates that transits passing the Suez Canal decreased by 42% compared to its peak. With major players in the shipping industry temporarily suspending Suez transits, weekly container ship transits have fallen by 67%, and container carrying capacity, tanker transits, and gas carriers have experienced significant declines.

Meanwhile, total transits through the Panama Canal plummeted by 49% compared to its peak.

Costly uncertainty of the Cape route

Mounting uncertainty and shunning the Suez Canal to reroute around the Cape of Good Hope has both economic and environmental repercussions, particularly for developing economies.

The Panama Canal is particularly important for the foreign trade of countries on the West Coast of South America. Approximately 26% of Ecuador’s trade volumes cross the canal. The share is around 22% for both Chile and Peru.

Africa trade dependency

Foreign trade for several East African countries is highly dependent on the Suez Canal. Approximately 31% and 34% of foreign trade by volume for Djibouti and the Sudan, respectively, is channelled through the waterway connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea.

Soaring prices

UNCTAD underscores the far-reaching economic implications of prolonged disruptions in container shipping, threatening global supply chains and potentially delaying deliveries, causing higher costs and inflation. The full impact of higher freight rates will be felt by consumers within a year.

LNG shortfall

In addition, practically no liquified natural gas carrying vessels are using the Suez Canal at present. This is directly impacting energy supplies and prices, especially in Europe.

Grain trade disruption

The crisis could also impact global food prices, with longer distances and higher freight rates potentially cascading into increased costs. Disruptions to grain shipments pose risks to global food security, affecting consumers and lowering prices paid to producers.

Climate impact

For more than a decade, the shipping industry has lowered speeds to reduce fuel costs and greenhouse gas emissions. However, disruptions in key trade routes like the Red Sea and Suez Canal, coupled with factors affecting the Panama Canal and Black Sea, are leading to increased vessel speeds to maintain schedules, which have led to higher fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

UNCTAD estimates that these factors could result in up to 70% rise in greenhouse gas emissions for a Singapore-Rotterdam round trip.

Pressure on developing economies

Developing countries are particularly vulnerable to these disruptions and UNCTAD remains vigilant in monitoring the evolving situation.

Robust cooperation needed

It emphasizes the urgent need for swift adaptations from the shipping industry and robust international cooperation to manage the rapid reshaping of global trade. The current challenges underscore the exposure of global trade to geopolitical tensions and climate-related challenges, demanding collective efforts for sustainable solutions, especially in support of countries more vulnerable to these shocks.

  • The UNCTAD report is available here
Added 25 February 2024


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Transforming an industry on a global scale?

Africa Ports & Ships


Xeneta calls upon former Amazon and MSC logistics technology expert to join the ocean and air freight data revolution.

How do you harness the power of data and technology to transform the way ocean and air freight is bought and sold around the world?

That is the task facing Fabio Brocca after being appointed Chief Product Officer at Xeneta – the leading ocean and air freight rate benchmarking platform.

Brocca, however, has the inside track on global transformation after helping to scale and run one of the largest transportation networks on earth in his previous role as Head of Product for Global Transportation Technology at Amazon.

He said: “Amazon showed me the importance of working backwards from the customer and how a best-in-class tech company is run.

“When you are transforming an industry, you must think long term. What we think is needed today may not be what’s needed tomorrow, so it is a continuous pursuit of innovation.

“There is a beautiful quote from Jeff Bezos where he says, ‘we are stubborn on vision, we are flexible on details’.”

Brocca’s role will see him further develop Xeneta’s platform, which already calls upon more than 400 million crowdsourced datapoints on ocean and air freight shipping rates to bring transparency to an otherwise opaque market.

What is the problem Xeneta is trying to solve? Brocca has first-hand experience having also held the position of Director of Business Transformation at MSC – the world’s largest ocean freight shipping company.

“I have witnessed first-hand businesses across the freight industry with slow and inefficient processes, tendering departments working overtime every day for three months and still taking weeks to close a tender – then doing this again and again over multiple rounds.

“There is a lack of visibility in the market on how much businesses should be paying for ocean and air freight.”

Xeneta is set to launch the next generation of the platform in 2024 with previews being showcased at the TPM24 industry summit in Long Beach, California in 10 days’ time. How does Brocca believe it will solve customers’ problems, both now and in the future?

“The Xeneta platform is already providing tremendous value to customers, which is a great position to be in as a product leader.

“The long-term journey for the Xeneta platform is about insights and further personalization of the experience for customers. We want to display relevant data with the right context so that we can shorten the time it takes for customers to identify the most relevant insights for their business.

“I see my job as bringing clarity and focus on how the products we are launching today are supportive of the longer-term vision to change the way freight is bought and sold.”

Brocca’s addition follows the appointment of Tonia Luykx as Chief Revenue Officer and Hugo Grimston as Chief Finance Officer in the past 12 months, with Xeneta CEO Patrik Berglund believing he has found a ‘needle in a haystack’.

“I knew we needed a global talent who brings a unique understanding of the Xeneta platform, the problems we are trying to solve for customers and our vision for the future,” said Berglund.

“Fabio has an extremely relevant background having worked within the shipping and freight industry at MSC while also having been a product leader in a global, market-leading logistics company like Amazon.

“Fabio also fits seamlessly into the special Xeneta culture so it feels like we have found a needle in a haystack and I am delighted to welcome him onboard.”

Added 25 February 2024


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Claude Aman appointed Managing Director of Africa Global Logistics Ghana

Africa Ports & Ships

Claude Aman has been appointed the new Managing Director of Africa Global Logistics Ghana. He replaces Thibaut Lamé, who is now Managing Director of AGL Cameroon.

Claud Aman AGL Ghana’s new MD

In a statement AGL says Claude Aman’s main mission will be to pursue AGL’s growth strategy in Ghana, by developing new logistics solutions adapted to customer needs and market challenges.

He will also be responsible for promoting AGL’s vision as a major player in logistics transformation considering the establishment of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, of which Ghana hosts the headquarters of the Executive Secretariat.

Aman has 20 years of solid experience at AGL, where he has held several positions of responsibility. He began his career in AGL’s operations department where he rose through the ranks by contributing to the obtaining of several international certifications and the development of the company’s logistics services, particularly in Côte d’Ivoire.

In 2012, he took over the management of import and hinterland operations, before being appointed Director of Logistics Solutions in 2019. In this capacity, he led strategic projects for the development of logistics corridors in Africa.

Added 25 February 2024


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IMO agrees new guidance for safe transport of plastic pellets on ships

Picture: IMO

Edited by Paul Ridgway
Africa Ports & Ships

The IMO is advancing efforts to ensure the safe transport of plastic pellets (otherwise known as nurdles) transported on ships, which can cause damage to the marine environment if released into the sea.

Meeting from 19 to 23 February at IMO HQ, the Organization’s Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR 11) agreed draft recommendations for the carriage of plastic pellets by sea, along with draft guidelines for cleaning up plastic pellet spills from ships.

Draft recommendations

The draft recommendations for the carriage of plastic pellets by sea in freight containers include the following actions:

* Plastic pellets should be packed in good quality packaging which should be strong enough to withstand the shocks and loadings normally encountered during transport. Packaging should be constructed and closed to prevent any loss of contents which may be caused under normal conditions of transport, by vibration or acceleration forces.

* Transport information should clearly identify those freight containers containing plastic pellets. In addition, the shipper should supplement the cargo information with a special stowage request requiring proper stowage.

* Freight containers containing plastic pellets should be properly stowed and secured to minimize the hazards to the marine environment without impairing the safety of the ship and persons on board. Specifically, they should be stowed under deck wherever reasonably practicable, or inboard in sheltered areas of exposed decks.

MEPC March 2024

These recommendations, which aim to prevent a spill of pellets occurring, will be submitted for urgent consideration and approval by the Marine Environment Protection Committee at its next meeting in March 2024 (MEPC 81).

Clean-up guidance

In the event of a spill, the draft clean-up guidelines provide practical advice for government authorities and other entities for developing large-scale national strategies as well as smaller-scale site specific response plans. The guidelines cover contingency planning, response, post-spill monitoring and analysis, and intervention and cost recovery. These will be updated as the industry gains more experience with their application.

MEPC October 2024

The draft clean-up guidelines will be submitted to MEPC 82 in October for consideration. The Sub-Committee invited Member States to implement the guidelines early, pending their formal approval.

The Sub-Committee also held extensive discussions on possible amendments to IMO mandatory instruments related to plastic pellets and will continue these discussions at future sessions.

About nurdles

Plastic pellets are small plastic granules widely used as a raw material in the creation of plastic products. Normally transported by the tonne in freight containers, spills in the ocean can harm marine life and impact fishing, aquaculture and tourism activities. The most recent major incident occurred off the coast of Galicia in Spain, when millions of pellets washed ashore after accidental release from a ship.

PPR 11 more

Other key issues discussed at PPR 11 include the impact of Black Carbon emissions on the Arctic environment, guidance related to in-water cleaning to support the implementation of the 2023 Biofouling Guidelines, discharge of discharge water from exhaust gas cleaning systems, improving the lifetime performance of sewage treatment plants and reporting of lost fishing gear.

Added 25 February 2024



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Port Louis – Indian Ocean gateway port

Africa Ports & Ships publishes regularly updated SHIP MOVEMENT reports including ETAs for ports extending from West Africa to South Africa to East Africa and including Port Louis in Mauritius.

In the case of South Africa’s container ports of Durban, Ngqura, Ports Elizabeth and Cape Town links to container Stack Dates are also available.

You can access this information, including the list of ports covered, by  CLICKING HERE remember to use your BACKSPACE to return to this page.

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QM2 in Cape Town. Picture by Ian Shiffman

We publish news about the cruise industry here in the general news section.

Naval News

Similarly you can read our regular Naval News reports and stories here in the general news section.




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Don’t forget to send us your news and press releases for inclusion in the News Bulletins. Shipping related pictures submitted by readers are always welcome. Email to info@africaports.co.za

Total cargo handled by tonnes during January 2024, including containers by weight

PORT January 2023 million tonnes
Richards Bay 7.141
Durban 6.112
Saldanha Bay 4.619
Cape Town 1.021
Port Elizabeth 1.018
Ngqura 1.050
Mossel Bay 0.126
East London 0.157
Total all ports during January 2023 21.244 million tonnes