New wave in African waters
Despite the pandemic, major shipping companies have started routes to/from Africa to South America, Asia and India, projecting a positive outlook for the ocean trade, which stayed afloat for quite some time.
With eight countries joining World Logistics Passport, the benefits to African businesses include a significant reduction in their supply chain costs and improved speed to market for their exports and imports. Despite the pandemic, major shipping companies have started routes to/from Africa to South America, Asia and India, projecting a positive outlook for the ocean trade, which stayed afloat for quite some time.
The World Logistics Passport’s (WLP) expansion into Ethiopia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Burkina Faso and Guinea (Gateway countries); and Senegal and South Africa (Hub countries), aims to boost global trade, enhance the efficiency and resilience of global supply chains. With countries looking to build back global trade volumes, the benefits to African businesses include a significant reduction in their supply chain costs and improved speed to market for their exports and imports.
However, Ethiopia’s participation is aligned with the government’s ambitious economic reform programme and commitment to upgrade national transport and logistics capabilities, including the recent strategic partnership with DP World to further develop the Berbera Corridor. While Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe will help deliver benefits to freight forwarders across Southern Africa, ongoing upgrades in key regional infrastructure such as the Kazungula Bridge and Maputo Corridor. The entry of Burkina Faso and Guinea builds on Senegal’s participation as a key hub for West Africa, opening up new trade routes and markets to Latin America in the west and the Middle East and Asia to the east through Dubai.
Commenting on the growth of trade in the African container terminals it manages and the impact of the pandemic, Sébastien Beuque, deputy CEO, Bolloré Logistics in Africa, says, “During the crisis, we have demonstrated our ability to overcome difficulties thanks to our diversified presence on the African continent, but also because of our willingness to make a long-term commitment to the development of the territories and our risk assessment about our investments. Also, the international crisis is creating new opportunities to redefine an intra-African and inclusive growth model. It implies providing an individual response to each country according to its geographical (landlocked or not), economic (natural resource exporter, producer,) and social context, etc. Nearshoring and the development of short circuits seems inevitable. In this respect, the crisis is an opportunity to stimulate processes of change and to galvanise political will. We need to work on the revival of African economies, from the point of view of investment, finance, human resources but also in terms of innovation.”
In 2020, Bolloré’s various terminals handled 4.93 million TEUs, consisting mainly of necessities for import and raw materials, particularly agricultural products for export. The terminals handled 600,000 tonnes of cotton, 900,000 tonnes of cocoa, 150,000 tonnes of coffee, and 170,000 tonnes of cashew.
Continuing to comment on the trade growth, a spokesperson from the Port of Hamburg, states, “The seaborne cargo between Hamburg and Africa increased in 2020 by 2.7 percent. The major driver was the export of grain that more than doubled to 1.3 million tonnes. This was an indirect consequence at the beginning of the pandemic, because other producers in other countries, like Russia, are confronted with an export stop on cereals due to an order by the national government to stop those kind of exports temporarily to serve their inhabitants.”
In 2020, the Port of Hamburg in its trade with Morocco has handled close to 1.5 million tonnes (+14.5 percent), where inward products included agriculture, chemical products, and food products, while outward products consisted of agriculture (mainly cereals), chemical products, food products, wood and wood products, basic metals, and fabricated metal products.
In February this year, the CMA CGM and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) started its service between Africa and South America through Terminal 3 of Meridian Port Services (MPS) in Ghana at the port of Tema. MSC benefits from a berthing window on the MPS docks for its connections between Africa and South America. Meanwhile, CMA CGM’s recently launched South America - West Africa (SAMWAF) service makes the port of Tema a leading hub for containers coming to and from Ghana and countries in the sub-region.
In 2020, Bolloré’s various terminals handled 4.93 million TEUs, consisting mainly of necessities for import and raw materials, particularly agricultural products for export.
Sébastien Beuque, Bolloré Logistics Africa
Last year in October, CMA CGM’s West Africa Express (WAX) service operated on the trade lane Asia to West Africa has added Kribi, Cameroon direct weekly and fixed-day port call in the port coverage. The transit time to Kribi from Shanghai has now become 33 days, Ningbo (32 days), and Nansha (28 days). Additionally, multimodal solutions will be offered to Douala door/ramp, North Cameroon, Chad and the Central African Republic.
A spokesperson from CMA CGM Group, comments, “The WAX service connects West Africa to some of the world’s busiest ports, such as Shanghai, Shekou, Nansha, Singapore or Tanjung Pelepas. Calling through fixed days weekly dedicated berth window at Kribi, Cotonou, Abidjan, Lome and Tin Can / Lagos, the WAX service offers a range of intermodal options to customers throughout West and parts of Central Africa. In early October 2020, CMA CGM made improvements to its West Africa Express service to develop its offering in Cameroon. Since that upgrade, the port of Kribi is served by a rotation of 12 vessels, with one weekly call on a fixed-day basis.”
In the third week of January 2021, MSC began a new direct service from India to West Africa - MSC India Africa Service (IAS). This service connects Northwest and South India to West Africa, with a call at Colombo in Sri Lanka. On its return, it connects South Africa directly with the Middle East, Pakistan and India.
In May, a new East Africa Service 3 (EAS3) began to offer direct weekly sailings between China, South-East Asia, Kenya and Tanzania with competitive transit times. In addition, the EAS3 offers connections to Hapag-Lloyd’s global network via the hub ports of Singapore, Port Kelang and Shanghai. Seven 2,800 TEU vessels are deployed in the service, including two provided by Hapag-Lloyd.
Meanwhile, Egyptian authorities have entered into a long-term partnership with CMA CGM for the operation and management of Pier 55, the Port of Alexandria’s upcoming multi-purpose terminal. The terminal covers an area of 560,000 square metres with quays of over 2 kilometres in length. It will have a capacity of around 1.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) and will facilitate the deployment of the group's larger vessels. The operations will commence in 2022.
As various logistics sectors are prioritising sustainability, the shipping industry is also keen on developing carbon-neutral fuels. The CMA CGM Group, in its efforts to be carbon-neutral by 2050, is supporting the production of 12,000 tonnes of biomethane. It intends to push ahead with the development of this energy source by investing in biomethane production facilities and studying the viability of liquefaction processes so that biomethane can be rolled out as a shipping fuel.
Meanwhile, MSC joined the Hydrogen Council as a steering member to foster cross-sector collaboration that will accelerate R&D related to clean hydrogen derived fuels and solutions. The initiative is a part of MSC’s wider approach to decarbonisation which has already seen the company pioneer the use of biofuels as a blended marine fuel and now MSC will partner with others to advance the exploration viability of hydrogen and fuels derived from it as a potentially viable fuel sources for container shipping.
Aiming to reduce the carbon footprint of its activities by using a precise methodology that covers all environmental issues, Bolloré Ports has launched the Green Terminal certification process in June this year. The certification is the first in the port sector to be validated by the Bureau Veritas. Beuque explains, “As part of this process, Bureau Veritas will be responsible for validating the process annually, following an internal audit carried out by a network of experts mobilised in each terminal. The results will be submitted to the Bolloré Ports' management. Terminals that achieve a score of over 50 percent will then be awarded a certificate to demonstrate their compliance.”
Digitalisation also plays an important part to innovate and offer more efficient solutions that contribute to facilitating exchanges, improving services and streamlining the supply chain.
Conakry Terminal, a subsidiary of Bolloré Ports and operator of the Port Autonome de Conakry container terminal, has just launched a new online payment solutions for its customers. It will limit its customers' journeys and reduce CO2 emissions linked to the port operator's bill processing and payment operations.
Beuque adds, “Today, electronic payment is offered in many countries of our network including Guinea, Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo. Other countries will soon adopt this new payment method aiming at simplifying the payment process by operating multiple transactions at once in a secure way. It has already been deployed in partnership with several organisations, including Intouch, Orange Money, MTN-MoMo and YUP money. The electronic payment option is offered via Bolloré Ports' electronic platform, IES.”
ACT with CMA CGM+ is a range of high value-added services launched by the CMA CGM Group in November 2020 and is available throughout all its shipping subsidiaries. It consists of services enabling the Group’s customers to analyse, reduce and offset the environmental footprint of the shipment of their goods. The company made the groundbreaking decision to power 26 of its containerships using liquefied natural gas (LNG) by 2022, and seven of these are already in service.
CMA CGM Group’s spokesperson concludes, “As all of the group’s customers, CMA CGM customers in Africa can benefit from the cleaner energy LNG solution. Available since November 2020, it allows customers to choose to transport their goods using LNG, a novel technology that helps to preserve air quality by eliminating almost all atmospheric pollutants. By the end of 2024, 44 of the group’s vessels will be LNG-powered. Through its greater energy efficiency and the use of renewable biomethane sources, this offering also delivers a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, it will see its share of biomethane increase, paving the way for a reduction in CO2 emissions of upto25 percent on a well-to-wake basis, compared to the previous 15 percent reduction.”
Private actors have a vital role to play in the development of African economies. The only way to do that is to facilitate exchanges by developing infrastructures, flag an intercontinental logistics network - hubs, intermodal connections - that are efficient and promote the competitiveness of local products. Today, Africa remains the most fragmented continent in terms of intra-continental trade. Therefore, there is a need to support the integration of African countries into the multilateral trading system as well as the acceleration of intra-African trade.