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An Interview with Tanger Med

TOC returns to Africa this September to Tangier, Morocco – home of both Africa and the Mediterraneans’ largest container port – Tangier Med.  Ahead of what is expected to be an incredibly busy debut event in the country, TOC caught up with Hassan Abkari – Managing Director at Tanger Med Port Authority regarding his thoughts on the upcoming show, as well as his views on the port’s pivotal role in Africa's maritime landscape.

Q: What are the mega trends affecting maritime trade in the region?

A: Tanger Med, the leading port in the Mediterranean and in Africa influence is integral to the West Med and to the Strait of Gibraltar ecosystem and it's necessary to consider its unique positions when addressing mega trends in maritime trade.

Firstly, the stringent environmental regulations resulting from climate change directly affect these ports. Ships must comply with these regulations, leading to changes in operational efficiency and, potentially, in trade routes. Ports would need to adapt their operations and possibly invest in infrastructure that supports environmentally friendly ships. Digital transformation is the second significant trend; the advent of technologies such as automated terminals, digital twins, blockchain, and data analytics holds immense potential for these ports. They can enhance efficiency, security, and tracking capabilities while reducing operational costs.

Hassan Abkari, Managing Director at Tanger Med Port Authority

Thirdly, geopolitical shifts are a crucial factor. With the Gibraltar Strait being a significant connection point between Europe and Africa, changes in political relationships and trade deals could reshape the dynamics of maritime trade. For instance, the effects of Brexit could force ports on the West Med to revise their strategies to maintain their prominent roles in the region.

Security concerns, including piracy and cybersecurity, are also vital. While the Gibraltar Strait is not a piracy hotspot, the growing digitization in the shipping industry makes cybersecurity increasingly relevant, both ports would need to enhance their cyber defense mechanisms to protect their operations and the data they handle.

Global economic trends and changes in trade patterns, like those seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, could affect the long-haul shipping passing through these ports. A possible shift towards regional trade could alter the flow and volume of trade, prompting both ports to adjust their operations accordingly.

Finally, infrastructure development plays a key role. The emergence of new ports, canals, or shipping routes could impact the importance of Tanger Med in the global trade, making continued investment in its own infrastructure crucial to maintaining its relevance and competitiveness.


Q: What is the strategic role the port plays in North African trade?

A: When discussing the keystones anchoring North Africa's connection to the global trade landscape, Tanger Med port complex unquestionably occupies a central position.

Strategically nestled on the Strait of Gibraltar, Tanger Med transcends its identity as a port to emerge as a colossal global logistics hub. With capabilities spanning the management of 9 million containers, 7 million passengers, 700,000 trucks, and an 1 million vehicles, its significance in maritime logistics cannot be overstated.

Tanger Med's design and functionality make it an unparalleled platform dedicated to transshipment and import-export activities. This not only cements Morocco's position but, by extension, reinforces North Africa's footprint in the global market. Holding the esteemed title of Africa's premier port since 2017, Tanger Med has further adorned its reputation by emerging as the top container port in the Mediterranean, with ambitions clearly set on entering the global top 20.

Spanning a vast 1,000 hectares, the infrastructure that Tanger Med boasts reflects meticulous planning and unparalleled execution. From its two main ports, the dedicated passenger and ro-ro port, to the maritime business nexus, the Tanger Med Port Center, every component is dedicated to excellence. This extensive infrastructure, combined with the port's vast connectivity that links North Morocco to 180 ports and 70 countries across continents, amplifies its central role in the global trade ecosystem.

However, Tanger Med's influence isn't confined to traditional port activities. By integrating with a wider multimodal transport system, including railways and highways, it assures a seamless flow of goods and passengers throughout Morocco. Collaborating with top-tier operators and shipping giants such as Maersk, Hapag-Lloyd, and EUROGATE underscores the port's commitment to maintaining global standards.

At its core, Tanger Med's ethos leans heavily towards sustainable growth, evident from its extensive list of international certifications. From championing environmental stewardship to setting benchmarks in quality measures, Tanger Med leads by example. Geographically, its position offers a direct conduit to major maritime lines, ensuring a strong maritime connection to nearly 40 African ports and an impressive list of weekly maritime routes.

But Tanger Med's influence extends beyond just facilitating trade. It is actively reshaping the African logistics landscape, by substantially reducing transit times and freight costs, the port is catapulting Africa's logistical prowess into the future.

In essence, Tanger Med is not just the leading Mediterranean and African ports, but it is also a global logistics hub redefining trade norms and setting global benchmarks for ports worldwide.


Q: What are the key topics that are likely to be on the agenda during TOC Africa?

A: At the upcoming TOC Africa event, a comprehensive and forward-thinking agenda was designed with the aim to address both the opportunities and challenges facing the maritime and logistics sector, especially in the African context.

Starting off, there will be a keynote address which sets the tone for the entire event, laying out the broader vision and insights on the industry's evolution. Following that, a dedicated session on 'Tanger Med: The Gateway to Africa' will delve into the pivotal role that Tanger Med plays in Africa's maritime landscape.

Our attendees will benefit from a comprehensive session titled 'A Look into Africa: Challenges & Opportunities'. This will unpack the various dynamics at play in the African maritime sector and explore potential growth areas.

Another highlight is 'Connecting the Maritime & Logistics Sector - The Port as a Trade Enabler' which promises to shed light on the importance of ports in trade facilitation, positioning them not just as gateways, but as crucial trade enablers.

We'll be discussing the intricate interplay of African ports with the global supply network in 'Articulating African Ports within the Global Supply Network', looking at how Africa fits into and can benefit from the global maritime equation.

Given the importance of infrastructure, the session on 'Developing Port & Hinterland Infrastructure' will address the criticality of robust and reliable infrastructure, both within the port and its hinterland, to ensure efficient cargo movement.

A significant part of the discussion will revolve around the financial aspects. 'Financing and Investing in African Maritime Trade' will delve into the challenges and opportunities of funding maritime ventures in the continent.

In today's digital age, 'Digitalizing Maritime & Logistics in Africa' will explore the digital transformation journey of the maritime sector in Africa and its implications.

Sustainability is at the forefront of global discussions, and we’ll be discussing its importance in the context of African ports and terminals in 'Sustainable Operations: What does that mean for African Ports & Terminals?

Lastly, we’ll host a panel discussion on 'What can be done to develop a prosperous African port community?"' This promises to be an interactive, engaging, and informative session bringing together industry experts to share their views on fostering a thriving port community in Africa.

Overall, the event seeks to be an enriching platform for all stakeholders, offering deep insights networking opportunities, and a comprehensive overview of the maritime and logistics landscape in Africa.


Q: Tell us more about the suitability of Tanger-Med being the host venue for TOC Africa

A: Given its strategic prominence, Tanger-Med is exceptionally positioned to host TOC Africa 2023.  Beyond being a port complex, Tanger Med is a global logistics hub, a hub deeply interconnected With decade-long legacy of bridging leaders, tech aficionados, and policy architects central to the intricate global container supply network, TOC Africa has set on ushering groundbreaking port transformation in this region Tanger- its sights its expansive infrastructure, extensive international links, and forward- Med, with approach, encapsulates this vision perfectly.

By hosting TOC Africa, it stands thinking testament to the continent's aspiration of fostering a more resilient, sustainable, and efficient port and logistics industry. Tanger-Med is not only a gateway to the continent's ports and logistics chain but also a beacon pointing towards the future of Africa's dynamic maritime realm.


Q: Why in your view should attendees visit TOC Africa and Tanger-Med?

A: Delegates attending TOC Africa should be excited about the unparalleled opportunity it presents. Firstly, TOC Africa stands at the very crossroads of the international container supply chain, connecting Africa's vibrant ports and terminals landscape. This event is backed by over 40 years of TOC Worldwide's legacy, which has consistently facilitated meaningful engagements among industry leaders, tech pioneers, and policy influencers central to the global container supply framework. In essence, TOC Africa isn't just an event; it's an institution aiming to foster the imminent maritime renaissance in the region.

Now, add to this the strategic brilliance of Tanger-Med. It's not just a port; it's a representation of Africa's ambitious maritime and logistic future. By choosing Tanger- Med as the venue, delegates get an up-close look at one of the pillars of Africa's maritime infrastructure, deeply integrated with the global logistics fabric. Visitors will experience firsthand the remarkable developments and innovations that place Tanger-Med on the world map, especially its role as the key gateway to the continent's ports and logistics ecosystem.

So, in a nutshell, delegates will not only be participating in a seminal industry even but will also immerse themselves in the success story that Tanger-Med epitomizes. The combined experience promises insights, networking, and an understanding of the region's port logistics like never before. Join us and be a part of shaping the intriguing future of Africa's maritime industry.

TOC Africa takes place from 20-21 September 2023 at the Hilton Tangier Al Houara Resort & Spa, Morocco.  There is still time to register:

Register as a delegate here (Gives you full access to the conference and networking opportunities)  

Register as a visitor here (Gives you access to the exhibition only)