Global economic slowdown benefits African traders

Deep water ports such as Ngqura could see more vessel calling on the Asia to Europe routes.

The global economic slowdown has negatively impacted carriers in terms of lower vessel utilisation, but has benefited shippers, forwarders and traders still carrying cargo to and from Africa as this brings ‘much lower rates’ and fewer delays due to berthing congestion.

This is according to the second analytical report, produced by, which measures African port incidents and analyses trends, new developments and carrier shipping performance.

Port Overview editor, Victor Shieh, pointed out that the absorption of the Delmas brand into CMA-CGM (as of March 1),  the disappearance of a number of Asian carriers from key Africa trades, and the consolidation of Safmarine representation in a number of countries outside Africa and India would mean less brand choice for cargo owners, importers and forwarders.

“However, cascading of ever-larger vessels into Africa trades will continue to offer shippers additional space on board vessels as the major carriers and alliances are forced to absorb the latest newbuild ultra large container ships,” he commented.

Shieh added that recent analysis from SeaIntelshowed that since the end of October 2015, 115 vessels deployed on the Asia-USEC trade and Asia-North Europe services had made the back-haul trip to Asia by sailing south of Africa rather than through the Suez and Panama canals, which had been their routing on the head haul. Three of these vessels were deployed on Asia-North Europe services, while the remaining 112 were deployed on Asia-USEC.

“The eventual possibility of these vessels making calls in deep water ports such as Durban, Ngqura or even the new transhipment hub in Lomé cannot be discarded, should the current economic situation persist,” he said.

According to the report, some African ports have already seen significantly larger vessels than “usual” berth alongside. “In addition to the post-panamax tonnage from MSC, which now regularly calls at the Lomé terminal in Togo, Mombasa and Dar Es Salaam to the east have already started handling 6 000-TEU capacity vessels, with Walvis Bay and Pointe Noire as well as Lomé receiving 9 000- to 10 000-TEU vessels from CMA-CGM,” said Shieh.

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