Africa PORTS & SHIPS Maritime News

Bringing you shipping, freight, trade and transport related news of interest for Africa since 2002
Bringing you shipping, freight, trade and transport related news of interest for Africa since 2002


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Picture by Luc Hosten, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Picture: Luc Hosten

Two cruise ships in Algoa Bay. Seven Seas Voyager is framed by Seabourn Sojourn in this scene, taken in 2014 by Luc Hosten. The latter ship is back in South African waters in February.


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Port Elizabeth's Car Terminal, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Port Elizabeth’s Car Terminal

Port statistics for the month of December 2017, covering the eight commercial ports under the administration of Transnet National Ports Authority, are now available.

Total cargo handled at all eight ports during December 2017 amounted to 25.854 million tonnes, compared with November 2017 when 25.072 million tonnes of cargo was handled, an expected decrease for the month in question.

The Port of Richards Bay was again in the forefront in terms of volume by having handled…


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The Manganese Terminal at Port Elizabeth, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
The Manganese Terminal at Port Elizabeth

Transnet said last week that its manganese export facility at the Port of Port Elizabeth will be transferred to the neighbouring Port of Ngqura by October 2023, some six years later than the original projected date of 2017.

According to Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), Port Elizabeth is South Africa’s primary export corridor for manganese mined in the Northern Cape from where the commodity serves as an important catalyst for economic growth and development.

Manganese is exported across the globe and is also handled at several other ports.

During a site visit on 11 January 2018, Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth) Executive Mayor Councillor Athol Trollip said the municipality would continue to cooperate with Transnet to attract greater manganese export volumes through Ngqura, while minimising potential negative impacts on livelihoods and convenience of the community.

Responding to recent public concern over manganese dust emissions, Port of Port Elizabeth Manager, Rajesh Dana, outlined a manganese management five-point plan formulated by Transnet SOC LTD.

“We do not dispute the fact that our manganese operation in Port of Port Elizabeth creates an inconvenience to port tenants and residents. However, as a responsible corporate citizen we have superior operational and compliance controls in place to mitigate these negative impacts. Our independent scientific data confirms that the current operations do not pose any medical harm to the health of employees and residents,” he said.

Dana said the five-point plan would include the following:
* Reviewing controls with particular emphasis on dust suppression systems.
* The continued analysis and collation of data relating to air emissions and environmental impacts thereof, with appropriate remediation action.
* The establishment of a Hotline to register any public concerns around manganese, which Transnet will use to improve its operations. The telephone number is (041) 507 1910.
* Monthly meetings with manganese operators will continue to ensure the safe, secure and efficient export, and
* Quarterly public engagements with key stakeholders will be held to share information transparently.

Dana said Transnet would also continue to employ innovative technologies, seeking guidance from the International Manganese Institute to ensure its operations remained safe and efficient.

According to Dr Martin Prinsloo, a service provider of Transnet: “Transnet has a biological monitoring programme in place where blood samples are drawn from exposed persons on a regular basis and sent to an independent medical laboratory. Results have confirmed that not a single case of toxicology/poisoning was ever recorded in the Port of PE. The manganese ore in the port does not pose a health risk when managed responsibly like Transnet is currently doing.”

He added: “Manganese should not be perceived as a poison. It is an essential element in the human body. If a person’s manganese levels are too low, it needs to be supplemented. If too high, it can lead to neurological problems, not respiratory problems. For a healthy body, the balance must be right,” said Dr Prinsloo.

While the total annual throughput capacity of the Bulk Ore Terminal at the Port Elizabeth plant is 5.1 million tons, no more than 250,000 tons of manganese ore is stockpiled at the terminal at any given time.

TNPA says that it remains sensitive to the concerns of the community and is constantly assessing methods to improve handling operations with minimal impact on the community and the environment.

Manganese is an important contributor to the national economy including the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, creating large-scale employment and contributing significantly to foreign exchange earnings for South Africa’s development.


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Oiltanking and Grindrod Calulo's planned terminal at South Africa's Port of Ngqura, which is due for commissioning in the third quarter of 2019, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Oiltanking and Grindrod Calulo’s planned terminal at South Africa’s Port of Ngqura, which is due for commissioning in the third quarter of 2019

Germany’s Oiltanking GmbH has further expanded its operations in southern Africa with a new storage facility in Matola, Maputo, while expanding its operations in Mozambique by increasing its direct stake in Oiltanking Mozambique to 80% (from 60%).

The terminal in Matola received its first vessel on 26 November 2017. With land available for further development, the company says it may expand its operations beyond the initial storage capacity of 58,600 cubic metres (cbm).

The terminal has access to…

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New Kenya Railways SGR passenger trainsets, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
New Kenya Railways SGR passenger trainsets

Right on schedule, Kenya’s first standard gauge railway (SGR) freight train departed from the terminus at the port of Mombasa on 1 January, bound for Nairobi, the country’s capital.

The inland terminal is at a place named Embakisi, just outside…


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coiled steel

As a result of recent investigations, the US Commerce Department has set anti-dumping duty rates on carbon and alloy steel wire rod imports from South Africa and the Ukraine.

Following the investigation of the South Africa steel exports into the United States, the Commerce Department has assigned a dumping rate of 142.26% for the South African firm of…


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Author: Andrew Pike, partner and head of the Ports, Transport and Logistics Sector at leading Pan-African law firm, Bowmans, featuring in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Author: Andrew Pike, partner and head of the Ports, Transport and Logistics Sector at leading Pan-African law firm, Bowmans

There are important lessons Africa can learn from the success of Asia’s developing economies. Arguably the single biggest catalyst that propelled India and Malaysia to high-growth economic status was their successful introduction of transport and logistics corridors, leaving no corner of their countries unconnected.

The Malaysian economy was literally transformed by the North-South Expressway, a rail corridor connecting all of the country’s states and pushing across the border into Thailand.

Before the Expressway was up and running, Malaysia’s seven states were achieving GDP growth of between 3.9% and 5% in the period from 1989 to 1993.
After the expressway started operating, the states’ growth surged to between 7.1% and 7.7% throughout the period from 2000 to 2013.

Granted, other factors also came into play, such as Malaysia’s technology-rich economy, but its logistics corridors are key in allowing the transport of labour and interregional trade.

The same goes for India, which has 65,000 kilometres of railroads traversing three million square kilometres of land. Compare that to Africa, which has a landmass of 30 million square kilometres but only 66,011 kilometres of railroad – most of it concentrated in coastal areas.

The establishment of successful corridors in Africa could trigger a similar transformation on the continent – but only if investors can be persuaded that such corridors would be a safe and sound investment.

Biggest deal-breakers

World Bank investment surveys have repeatedly shown that protection of their legal rights is the overriding concern of investors when making decisions about where to undertake major infrastructure projects. These concerns outstrip all other considerations, including consumer payment discipline (a close second), government guarantees, government efficiency and the judiciary’s independence.

Corridor projects can be potentially high-risk investments because they are expensive and typically involve a multiplicity of stakeholders, from lenders, ship owners and rail operators to buyers, ports authorities and governments, and often have a cross-border component that can be difficult to manage.

From a coordination perspective, the African Union and the continent’s regional economic bodies would probably be best placed to manage the overall development of such corridors.

From the point of view of derisking corridor investment on a contractual level, there is much that an investor can do to build in proper recourse to the courts and secure compensation should things go sour.

Challenges linked to full concessions

The starting point is to be aware of the challenges around a typical build, operate, transfer (BOT) concession model, where the landlord retains ownership of, for example, the port terminal that is being built.

In the full concession model, a major problem is obviously that the operator, lender, sponsor or developer cannot take security over the port infrastructure. In addition to the usual security taken over revenue flows from throughput agreements, the best way to overcome this would be to obtain government guarantees. If these are not forthcoming, investors and lenders could be excused for displaying a healthy scepticism as to the soundness of the investment.

Avoid traffic guarantees

Operators should be wary of contracts binding them to certain volumes of traffic using or passing through the facility. For example, eight or nine years ago, coal was riding the crest of a wave, but then the price plummeted. Many traders chose to sit on their coal stocks, hoping prices would pick up. The flow of coal through logistics terminals all but dried up, leaving providers who had agreed to traffic guarantees in a precarious position.

Back-to-back arrangements would be a better option than traffic guarantees, enabling providers to escape the vagaries of commodity price fluctuations.

Take all costs into account

Logistics terminals cannot function without infrastructure such as quay walls, which more often than not the operator is expected to pay for through private investment. This infrastructure is not an asset for the operator, and neither does it generate revenue, but it is essential to the operation nevertheless. The operator must ensure that these expenses are appropriately built into the financial model and concession agreement.

Similarly, the operator must make provision in the contract for any superstructure (such as locomotives, wagons, tipplers and ship loaders) that it is expected to pay for.

Watch out for tariff control

For the bankability of a corridor project, pricing to the user is critical. A potential pricing pitfall is the existence of tariff control, which could result in investors severely burning their fingers if the powers-that-be decide to change the tariffs charged at terminals. This happened in Nigeria in 2015 when, in the absence of a ports authority, the shipping council was made the interim regulator. It promptly reduced users’ rates to 2009 levels, plunging port providers into a financial crisis. The key here is to build watertight pricing safeguards into the concession arrangements.

Biggest sticking point of all

There are of course many other contractual issues that operators should be aware of, such as fixed costs versus variable costs, but the biggest sticking point of all is probably the question of compensation on termination of the contract. It is vital to ensure that agreement is reached as to what compensation is payable, to whom and when.

There are three possible default scenarios:

  • Institutional default, such as if the facility is expropriated mid-term for any reason. Provision should be made in the contract for the operator and lender to be fairly compensated for their investment and funding over the duration of the concession period.
  • Operator default, which might arise for instance if traffic to and from the facility dries up and the operator is unable to continue with the concession. Here, it is important to ensure that the lender is adequately compensated, but also that the landlord or grantor of the concession does not make a windfall gain. There should also be a punitive element, in the form of a disincentive such as a discount on full compensation, so that it is not too easy for the operator to just walk away.
  • Force majeure, such as where a war or environmental pollution makes a facility unusable early on in the concession. While it could be argued that such an event is simply “bad luck”, it should not result in the landlord receiving a windfall gain at the expense of the lender and developer, and the risk should be shared on both sides through a fair compensation formula.

Handled appropriately, the various contracts and projects that make up a bigger corridor project could help close the logistics gaps that are now so common across Africa, and give investors peace of mind that their legal rights will be protected. As always, the devil lies in the detail.

About Bowmans

Bowmans is a leading Pan-African law firm. Its track record of providing domestic and cross-border legal services in the fields of corporate law, banking and finance law and dispute resolution, spans over a century. With 400 specialised lawyers, Bowmans is differentiated by its geographical reach, independence and the quality of legal services it provides.
The firm delivers integrated legal services to clients throughout Africa from six offices (Cape Town, Dar es Salaam, Durban, Johannesburg, Kampala and Nairobi) in four countries (Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda).
Bowmans works closely with leading Nigerian firm, Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie, which has offices in Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt, and has strong relationships with other leading law firms across the rest of Africa. It is a representative of Lex Mundi, a global association with more than 160 independent law firms in all the major centres across the globe.
Clients include corporates, multinationals and state-owned enterprises across a range of industry sectors as well as financial institutions and governments.
Bowmans expertise is frequently recognised by independent research organisations. The firm has been named African Legal Adviser by DealMakers for the last three consecutive years and South African Law Firm of the Year for 2016 by the Who’s Who Legal. Most recently, Bowmans won the Technology, Media and Telecommunications Team of the Year Award at the prestigious African Legal Awards hosted by Legal Week and the Corporate Counsel Association of South Africa in 2017. The firm was also ‘highly commended’ in the African Law Firm of the Year – Large Practice and Litigation and Dispute Resolution Team of the Year categories.


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Rt Hon Christ Grayling, MP and Secretary of State for Transport (UK), featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

The Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport (illustrated), has officiated at a formal ground-breaking ceremony to mark the start of work on the latest phase of expansion at Hutchison Ports Port of Felixstowe. This was reported by the port on 11 January.

Approximately 13 hectares of new paved container yard are to be constructed directly behind Berth 9 at the UK’s largest container port. The work will include the reclamation of 3.2 hectares of seabed.

Commenting on the latest development,…

Reported by Paul Ridgway


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Admiral Gorshkov, photographed on 24 December 2017. Photo: MoD Crown Copyright 2017 ©, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Admiral Gorshkov, photographed on 24 December 2017. Photo: MoD Crown Copyright 2017 ©

The Portsmouth-based Type 23 frigate St Albans was called upon to sail on 23 December and keep watch on the new Russian warship Admiral Gorshkov as she passed close to UK territorial waters.

HMS St Albans remained at sea on Christmas Day to monitor the Russian frigate, keeping track of her activity in areas of national interest. It was planned that the frigate would return to Portsmouth on 26 December and remain ready for very short notice tasking over the holiday period.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “I will not …

Reported by Paul Ridgway


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DRC: Implementation of a “Port Tax” surcharge

CMA CGM in Africa, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

According to the Governmental Decree No.028/CAB/VPM/MIN/TC/2017 issued on 7 August 2017 by the Ministry of Transport of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, CMA CGM wishes to inform its customers on the application of a new governmental “Port Tax” surcharge.

As from 2 January 2018 (*), this “Port Tax” surcharge will apply to all Imports in DRC from worldwide and all Exports ex DRC to worldwide and will be payable in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as per government published tariff as referred below:

DRC published tariff “Port Tax” applicable to imports and exports
US$ 40 per 20ft
US$ 80 per 40ft

All cargo and type of equipment (dry, reefer & special equipment)

(*) FMC Corridor date of application is 26 January 2018 subject to FMC filing.


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Port Louis – Indian Ocean gateway port

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 going 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.



Fred Olsen Lines' BOUDICCA, by Ian Shiffman, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

MSC Sinfonia, by Ian Shiffman, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Crystal Symphony in Cape Town, by Ian Shiffman, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Pictures by Ian Shiffman

Three cruise ships that arrived in South African waters recently are Fred Olsen Lines’ BOUDICCA (top), MSC Cruises MSC SINFONIA (middle) which has transferred from Durban to Cape Town briefly, and Crystal Cruises’ CRYSTAL SYMPHONY. The South Africa cruise season continues until April/May. All three ships are making multiple cruises along the Southern African coast, with the MSC ship spending almost six full months here. These pictures, taken in Cape Town, are by Ian Shiffman



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