Luanda, Angola’s chief port
The port of Luanda is Angola’s chief and busiest port servicing the capital city of Luanda and its natural hinterland.
The port is administered by state-owned Empresa Portuária de Luanda E.P. but several of its terminals are privately operated under concession agreements. The port is situated within the Luanda Bay in the north of the country, a natural harbour protected from the Atlantic Ocean by by a low-lying peninsula known as the Ilha da Luanda (Isle of) and resembling in some respects the Bay of Lobito.
Position: Latitude 08° 48′S – Longitude 13° 14′E
As a Portuguese settlement and harbour, Luanda dates back to 25 January 1576 when Portuguese explorer Paulo Dias de Novais founded Luanda, naming it as São Paulo da Assumpção de Loanda.
From those early beginnings Luanda became a centre for the slave trade primarily with Brazil, which was to last until around 1836. Slaves were traded to the Luanda merchants by the Ambundu and later the Imbangala kingdoms, and sold by these slavers to the Brazilian ships calling at the port.
The reining king of the Ambundu people was known as Ngola, from which the name of Angola derives.
Interestingly, Luanda and the wider region that was to become Angola served as a colony of Brazil for much of this time, with Brazil in turn being a colony of Portugal. For a short period between 1640 and 1648 the Dutch had occupation. Portugal’s control over both Luanda and Angola finally ended with independence in 1975.
The port, which lies 170 n.miles SSE of the mouth of the River Congo, is fed by the Luanda railway, that handles cargo to and from the inland city of Malanje in the province of Malanje.
Products handled at the port include dry and liquid bulk – involving iron ore, coal, petroleum and chemical products, breakbulk and general cargo, containers, fish products, Ro-Ro cargo, and passengers including occasional cruise ships.
Luanda has four terminals handling containers, one of them being Sogester (Sociedade Gestora de Terminais S.A.), which is a joint venture between APM Terminals (51%) and the Gestor de Fundos of Angola. The Sogester terminal has a capacity of 800,000 TEU annually.
The Multipurpose Terminal also handles containers as well as breakbulk and is concessioned to Soportos S.A.
Port berth depths alongside vary from 3.7 metres for passenger ferries, 12.5m for container berths, 13.5m for bulk cargo berths and 19.3m for tankers (225,000-dwt)
Luanda port has a floating dock catering for vessels with a maximum size of 6,000-dwt.
Ships anchored within Luanda Bay to the south of 013° 17′ 10″ E are considered an ‘arrived vessel’.
The Port of Luanda handles between 70 and 80 per cent of Angola’s non-petroleum total foreign trade, with Luanda handling around 14 million tonnes annually.
Total general (non-containerised) cargo handled in 2018 came to 7.081 million tonnes, down on the 7.703 mt handled in 2017.
Containers handled in 2018 totalled 445,357 TEU at all terminals, a 9% decrease on the 492,675 TEU handled in 2017 and 421% down from a peak in 2014 of 743,976 TEUs.
Passenger traffic forms an important cog at the port of Luanda, with most of this traffic being personnel transported to the offshore oil and gas industry. A total of 85,415 passengers were transported in 2018, of which 84,098 were in vessels related to the oil & gas sector, while 1,317 passengers were from cruise or other long-haul ships.
Vessel Traffic in Luanda for 2018 totalled 3,719 vessels, consisting of 3,164 cabotage vessels and 535 long-haul ships. In 2017 the numbers were a total of 4,144 vessels, with 3,511 cabotage and 633 long-haul vessels. Cabotage vessels generally consist of service/supply vessels for the oil & gas industry, while long-haul ships refer to general merchant shipping.