Improving Trade Flow Across Africa

Enabling Africa’s ports and port cities to drive the Continent's growth and development agenda

An effective and productive port is a very important asset for any country, this is more important in Africa than in any other region of the world. 90% of trade within Africa happens by sea due to the underdeveloped regional road network and higher propensity to import because of underutilised factory capacity.

Over the past few decades, the sub-Saharan Africa container market has been challenged by slow development of quality infrastructure which has led to long ship waiting times and in general the whole system has remained under developed in comparison to other port systems around the world.

With such a high dependence on external trade, productive and efficient ports are critical for Africa’s growth and to maintain the “Africa Rising” narrative.

A new wave of investment from the World Bank, logistics firms and overseas governments (particularly those of China and Japan) looks set to drive growth over the next decade to ensure that the region’s ports continue their transformation and in turn galvanise African trade and raise revenues across the region. 

TOC Events Worldwide, the Province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and the South African national port and rail network operator Transnet have announced that they will partner to run the inaugural TOC Africa, an international trade, transport and logistics event, in Durban, December 2017 under the guidance of Mr Sihle Zikalala, MPL and MEC for Economic Development, Tourism & Environmental Affairs.

The inaugural TOC Africa, which will bring together cargo owners, logistics, liner shipping, ports, terminals, inland transport, finance, equipment manufacturers and other stakeholder groups to discuss the evolution of regional maritime container logistics, transport and supply chain operations and the equipment and technology that facilitates global trade. In addition to the international audience that TOC delivers, KwaZulu-Natal will also be reaching out to other counterparts across the continent to ensure that TOC Africa is a truly pan-African event. There is no doubt that hosting the inaugural TOC Africa in Durban will help to bring physical expression to the “Africa Rising” narrative by enabling Africa’s ports and port cities to contribute to Africa’s growth and development agenda.

TOC Africa Conference 2017 : Topics & Themes

 In April 2017, the World Bank cut its growth outlook for Africa. After recording the worst decline in more than two decades in 2016, economic growth in Africa is expected to be 2.6 per cent this year and should rise to 3.2 per cent in 2018. The region is showing signs of recovery with the continent’s largest economies Nigeria, Angola and of course South Africa starting to rebound from the worst of the slowdown bought on by the commodity price crash. In this fragile economy, how can the region drive private sector growth and foster a more robust recovery and economic stimulus? 

Many African countries are racing to become one of the region’s leading hub ports. Scattered over the whole of the African continent, heavy investment and expansion of the port and hinterland infrastructure is continuing. The goal for each project is to become the main regional gateway increasing its role of becoming a hub port for transit and transshipment cargo, thereby serving as a reliable and efficient interchange for imports and exports.

African countries continue to be challenged by the lack of a comprehensive national highway system. Limited rail services mean cargo must be moved by road which causes congestion adding costs and delays. With trade corridors being developed – we look towards Maputo and Walvis Bay as important examples in the region. How can the region look to improve cross border connectivity?

Except for South Africa, the region struggles to accommodate ships of more than 3,000 TEU and when these ships call, productivity at the ports averages between 7 and 20 moves per hour per crane, this is against a worldwide standard of around 25, a number which many argue is still not enough. Investment is needed to expand and improve the size of the ports across the region and in the era of the mega ship, to be able accommodate and process the high levels of cargo that this region sees.

Africa experiences the highest average customs delays in the world. Clearances and cargo inspections contribute to 75% of trade facilitation delays and cripple the movement of cargo across the region. According to the World Bank, the average time for import is 36 days whilst the global average is 24 days.

Security: International piracy continues to plague the region with attacks around Somalia increasing significantly. With a multiple of supply chain security risks, shippers and logistics partners need to be aware of the challenges of moving goods around the world.

Case studies from exhibitors who have equipped African ports will be heard. Rather than focussing solely on the very latest technology and equipment – the event will look at where equipment specifically suited to the African market has been successful.

Africa was once touted as the ‘final frontier’ for the dry bulk market but challenges presented by exporting raw materials from the continent remain. TOC Africa will keep delegates up to date with the latest innovations in dry bulk materials handling, shipping, port operations and logistics.

Look what the industry says about TOC Africa >>

The show in Africa was a great opportunity to present ourselves on an aspiring continent. We were pleased about President Zuma's visit and to show our solutions to a new community.

Christian Jagusch, LASE

Well-organized, thoughtful discussions from across the continent.

Ziad Hamoui, Borderless Alliance