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

** Wednesday 21 March is a South African public holiday. Our next edition will appear on Thursday 22 March **


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MSC Aniello at Bahamas Freeport. Picture: Tony de Freitas, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
MSC Aniello.   Picture: Tony de Freitas

Here’s a ship that we’ve seen in South African waters before, she was certainly in Durban in December 2016 but in this photograph she’s in quite another place and time. The port is the Freeport, Bahamas and the ship is the 56,903-dwt MSC ANIELLO (IMO 9203942). The 260-metre long, 32m wide MSC Aniello was built in 2000 at the Hanjin Heavy Industries shipyard in Pusan, South Korea as hull no.73. She is owned and operated by MSC and is flagged in Panama. This is the second ship to have carried this name. The picture was taken by Tony de Freitas


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Port of Mossel Bay. Picture: TNPA, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritimenews
Port of Mossel Bay. Picture: TNPA

Despite being the smallest of the commercial ports along the South African coast, the Port of Mossel Bay is an important contributor to the economy of the Garden Route and Southern Cape, says Nico Walters, General Manager: Strategy at Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA).

Delivering his keynote address at the Garden Route Investment Conference held recently at the Oubaai Hotel and Resort in George under the theme ‘Creating Opportunity in Global Uncertainty’, Walters acknowledged the important role of ports in the local economy. The event was attended by delegates from countries including Sweden, China and Singapore and showcased the investment potential and opportunities within the Garden Route area to an audience of national and international investors.

“The immense potential of small ports and harbours to contribute to economic growth is acknowledged in government’s pursuit of using small harbours to attract investment in state coastal maritime, develop infrastructure and properties, grow businesses, create jobs and redistribute wealth,” said Walters.

“Transforming our ports into People’s Ports, where local communities and businesses have access to and are able to participate in port activities is a goal of TNPA. The Port of Mossel Bay is among the ports earmarked for investment under Operation Phakisa.”

The Operation Phakisa strategy, designed to unlock the ocean’s economy, has resulted in major upgrades and new facilities for ship repair as well as the development of facilities to serve the oil and gas industry, to ensure that South Africa attracts its share of this business.

“The Ocean’s Wealth translates into skills development, jobs, innovation, entrepreneurship and changing the country for the better,” says Walters.

The development of The Small Harbours and State Coastal Property Development unit (SH&SCPD), within the National Department of Public Works is part of the Oceans Economy strategy within Operation Phakisa. Hundreds of state properties along South Africa’s coast are to become sites of new business opportunities and catalysts for economic growth and job creation.

Skills development and job creation targets within these strategies will facilitate opportunities for port communities.

“TNPA prioritises the promotion of Radical Economic Transformation, localisation and supplier development through our procurement programmes,” says Walters. “We aim to create a smart, safe and secure port system with the infrastructure and capacity to promote economic growth, job creation, transformation and sustainable benefits for port communities. Training people to join the marine and dredging divisions is part of the organisation’s transformation agenda and a supplier development aspect is integral to every tender awarded by Transnet. Contractors are committed to supplier development initiatives that include encouraging local small business, capacity generation, IP transfer and training/bursaries for local South Africans,” he added.

TNPA’s Section 56 programme and leasing policy also support transformation, opening up participation in port activities to businesses owned by historically disadvantaged individuals. This promotes access to new entrants, ushering in a new era where ports are able to serve communities more inclusively and sustainably.

Developmental plans for the Port of Mossel Bay will ensure that it continues to create economic growth in the region. These include the establishment of a mixed-use waterfront development that will include retail, commercial and industrial facilities. This, in addition to the cruise vessel facility that brings in thousands of tourists to the Garden Route, and the fact that the Port of Mossel Bay is the only port operating two off-shore mooring points providing underwater vessel inspection, hull cleaning and salvage. The slipway upgrade that is in the pipeline will also support the local fishing and other industries.

“The Port of Mossel Bay holds a special place in South African maritime history as the first recorded harbour used regularly along the South African coast by European seafarers journeying to the East. We want to ensure that it continues to take its rightful place in the South African ports system,” said Port of Mossel Bay Manager, Shadrack Tshikalange.

He said the reintroduction of the Mossel Bay Dias & Port Festival, held in partnership with the Mossel Bay Municipality, aimed to bring the public into the port, grow awareness of the role the ports play in the economy and promote career and business opportunities amongst local communities.

Learnerships exist and TNPA has an ‘adopted schools’ programme that fosters the development of maths and science in learners from historically disadvantaged primary and high schools, with a view to creating a pipeline of students that qualify for tertiary education for careers in the maritime and engineering fields.


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A section of the Maputo port from the air, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
A section of the Maputo port from the air.

A US$64 million project to modernise and improve sections of the Port of Maputo and to increase cargo capacity by 1.5 million tons by December 2019 has commenced, according to the project manager of the Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC).

This follows repairs and the modernisation of berths 6, 7, 8 and 9 which has…


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Doraleh ContainerTerminal in Djibouti, from where DP World was evicted, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Doraleh ContainerTerminal in Djibouti, from where DP World was evicted

Brendon J Cannon,
Assistant Professor of International Security, Department of Humanities and Social Science, Khalifa University
Ash Rossiter, Assistant Professor in International Security, Department of Humanities & Social Science, Khalifa University


When Eritrea gained its independence from Ethiopia in 1993, Ethiopia became landlocked and therefore dependent on its neighbours – especially Djibouti – for access to international markets. This dependency has hampered Ethiopia’s aspiration to emerge as the uncontested regional power in the Horn of Africa.

Recently, however, the ground has been shifting. As we point out in a recent article, Ethiopia has attempted to take advantage of the recent involvement of various Arab Gulf States in the Horn of Africa’s coastal zone to reduce its dependency on Djibouti’s port. The port currently accounts for 95% of Ethiopia’s imports and exports. It has done so by actively trying to interest partners in the refurbishment and development of other ports in the region: Port Sudan in Sudan, Berbera in the Somaliland region of Somalia, and Mombasa in Kenya.

But it is Berbera, in particular, that will prove the most radical in terms of challenging regional power dynamics as well as international law. This is because a port deal involving Somaliland will challenge Djibouti’s virtual monopoly over maritime trade. In addition, it may entrench the de-facto Balkanization of Somalia and increase the prospects of Ethiopia becoming the regional hegemon.

Ethiopia’s regional policy

Ethiopia’s interest in Berbera certainly makes sense from a strategic perspective. It is closest to Ethiopia and will connect the eastern, primarily Somali region of Ethiopia to Addis Ababa. It will also provide a much needed outlet for trade, particularly the export of livestock and agriculture.

The development and expansion of the port at Berbera supports two primary pillars of Ethiopia’s regional policy. The first is maintaining Eritrea’s isolation. The aim would be to weaken it to the point that it implodes and is formally reunited to Ethiopia. Or it becomes a pliant, client state.

The second pillar rests on maintaining the status quo in post-civil war Somalia. Simply put, a weak and fractured Somalia enables Ethiopia to focus on quelling persistent internal security difficulties. It also keeps up pressure on Eritrea.

The Horn of Africa

Ethiopia’s ambitions for Berbera have been hampered by two problems. Firstly the Republic of Somaliland – a de-facto independent state since 1991 – still isn’t recognised internationally. This makes engagement a political and legal headache. Secondly, Ethiopia doesn’t have the critical resources needed to invest and build a port.

Ethiopia had been trying to get Abu Dhabi and Dubai interested in the Berbera Port for years. Its latest push was assisted by a number of factors. These included a shift in the UAE’s military focus in Yemen and Ethiopian assurances of more trade and some financing to upgrade the port.

Ethiopia’s diplomatic push – which coincided with developments across the Gulf of Aden – finally got it the result it craved. In May 2016, DP World, a global mega-ports operator, signed an agreement to develop and manage Berbera Port for 30 years.

The Berbera Port deal

It is unlikely that DP World would have signed the deal if it didn’t see some long-term commercial benefit. The deal also includes economic, military and political dimensions.

Economically, for example, there will be investments in Somaliland’s fisheries, transportation and hospitality industry. The UAE will also establish a military installation in Berbera. The base is intended to help the UAE tighten its blockade against Yemen and stop weapons being smuggled from Iran.

Politically, the Berbera Port deal has provoked mixed reactions in Somaliland. There has been some popular anger aimed at Somaliland’s former president, Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud aka “Silanyo”, and his family who reportedly benefited personally from it. Anger also stems from inter-clan and sub-clan rivalry over land, particularly in the Berbera area.

But the anger in Somaliland pales in comparison to the reaction in Mogadishu. This is because the Somaliland government has remained largely isolated internationally – until the port deal.

Somalia Federal Government ministers have publicly challenged the right of Somaliland to enter into official agreements with any country. The Ethiopian-driven deal means that Mogadishu’s claims over the breakaway territory have weakened substantially. The deal means that Somaliland has partially broken the glass ceiling of international recognition by entering into substantive deals with viable business partners and states operating on the global stage. Mogadishu can no longer pretend it controls the government in Somaliland’s capital Hargeisa.

Ethiopia’s wins

The bottom line is that Ethiopia has engineered access to another port and enhanced its security and strategic economic interests. With the growth in annual volumes of transit cargo, Ethiopia has, for a long time, needed alternative routes from Djibouti.

In addition, Ethiopia has ensured its presence in the running of the port by acquiring a 19% share in the deal.

And by wangling a legally binding agreement between Somaliland and another state, Ethiopia has potentially paved the way for eventual international recognition of Hargeisa.

Ethiopia has also further cemented its hold over Somaliland through a combination of pressure and material incentives. By bringing significant outside investment and recognition, Ethiopia can also increasingly meddle in its internal affairs. This is a conundrum for Hargeisa. It finds itself increasingly emboldened to act independently. Yet it remains constrained by the need to get Addis Ababa’s approval.

As Ethiopia begins to move increasing amounts of goods and services on Somaliland’s new highway to the refurbished port of Berbera, Hargeisa may begin to question key aspects of the port deal.

But one aspect will not be in question: Ethiopia’s rising power and influence over the entire region.

Disclosure statement: The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

  •  This article is republished from Conversations with permission under Creative Commons licence.


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South African container train in KZN. Picture courtesy: Charles Baker, eaturing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
South African container train in KZN. Picture courtesy: Charles Baker

Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi on Saturday invited South Africa to explore the country’s railway potential.

The invitation came during the visit to Mozambique by South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“We would like to see the use of our railway systems increased, as the…


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NM Cherry Blossom, now arrested off Port Elizabeth harbour. Picture: Shipspotting/Evgeniy, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
NM Cherry Blossom. Picture: Shipspotting/Evgeniy

A sealed bid auction to buy the disputed 55,000 tons of Saharan phosphate on board the 60,000-dwt bulk carrier NM CHERRY BLOSSOM (IMO 9703655), under arrest in the Port Elizabeth/Ngqura outer anchorage since May last year, began yesterday (19 March) and will run for 30 calendar days.

The ship’s cargo was said to have been taken illegally from the disputed Western Sahara and when the ship called off the Eastern Cape last year while en route to New Zealand, the matter was taken to court by the Polisario Front movement which claims to represent the Western Sahara.

In February this year the Port Elizabeth High Court granted the sale order. An…


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HMS Trent naming, Photographs MoD Crown Copyright 2018 ©, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Photographs MoD Crown Copyright 2018 ©

TRENT, the third of five new River Class Offshore Patrol Vessels, was officially named on 13 March during a ceremony at BAE Systems site at Govan, Glasgow, as final preparations were made before she enters the water for the first time in the coming days.

Mrs Pamela Potts, Trent’s sponsor and wife of Vice-Admiral Duncan Potts, named the vessel which will play a part in a range of operations including counter-terrorism and anti-smuggling to secure the UK’s borders.

Reported by Paul Ridgway

HMS Trent naming, Photographs MoD Crown Copyright 2018 ©, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news


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Dunkerque quay extension, featuring in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

The Port of Dunkerque in France is forging ahead with its €61.4 million Flanders Quay extension.

The extension will, once it is completed, enable the port to handle two 22,000-TEU container ships at the same time.

Although the port has…


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PEMA banner, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

PEMA – Port Equipment Manufacturers Association

The PEMA Student Challenge question for 2018 was announced yesterday, marking the official launch of this years’ competition. The theme of environmental challenge and productivity at ports was announced at the PEMA AGM in Bilbao in January, and focuses heavily on-air quality and the reduction of CO2 emissions at terminals.

This years challenge follows a number of high profile international initiatives to reduce CO2 emissions in the maritime sector and this years competitors will be challenged to draw on existing technologies such as shore power and green energy to propose a sustainable, yet economically competitive solution.

Teams will be judged, not only on their technical knowledge and creativity but also their ability to establish a realistic and cost-effective solution which could be implemented in a real port environment.

As tradition, there is a prize of EUR 1,000 up for grabs and the top three teams will be invited to present their solution at the Student Challenge Final, hosted live at TOC Europe in Rotterdam, 14th June. The lucky finalists will have the opportunity to attend the TOC and network with industry professionals who will judge the event.

Of the challenge, Fae Brennan, chair of the PEMA Communications, Events and Educational Programmes Committee, said “The PEMA Student Challenge provides a unique opportunity for young people to experience the TOC Europe and connect with industry leaders. The Student Challenge is helping to bring up emerging talent and we are committed to making a continued success of it.”

To see all the highlights from the Student Challenge 2017, check out the Student Challenge Final at the TOC Europe in Amsterdam.

Full rules of participation and sign-up sheets can be downloaded from our PEMA Student Challenge page.

If you are interested in participating in the Student Challenge 2018 or would like to learn more about the programme, please contact the PEMA Secretariat, Fae Brennan, via the details below:

Fae Brennan, +44 7766 228 958.

PEMA’s mission is to provide a forum and public voice for the global port equipment and technology sectors, reflecting their critical role in enabling safe, secure, sustainable and productive ports and thereby supporting world maritime trade.


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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.

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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

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Vialli ex Tiger Beijing. Pictures: Keith Betts, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Vialli ex Tiger Beijing. Pictures: Keith Betts, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Vialli ex Tiger Beijing. Pictures: Keith Betts, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Vialli ex Tiger Beijing. Pictures: Keith Betts,

When the bulk carrier VIALLI (IMO 9700067) called at Durban during February this year, photographer and ship enthusiast Keith Betts thought she looked familiar. Sure enough, the ship had been this way before although on the last occasion she had a different name – TIGER BEIJING, as shown in the lower of the three photographs. As Tiger Beijing the ship has called on several occasions to load coal at Richards Bay. Built in 2015 (some records show 2014) the 200-metre x 32m ship is owned by Singapore-registered interests and is managed by Stamford Shipping LLP of that port city. These pictures are by Keith Betts



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