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Published: 23 April 2015      

Africa stands still

There has been no “no qualitative improvement on schedule reliability or container deliveries to and from African ports in the last three years” a study has found.

Presented at this week’s Containerisation International Global Liner Shipping Conference in Hamburg, a study conducted by PortOverview Africa concluded that the reliability of container shipment deliveries into and out of Africa has not improved, “with schedule reliability and timely container delivery varying widely due to the sheer number of incidents in and around West African ports”. 

“Despite modest gains reported in the first three months of 2015, overall reliability to and from the continent is still far from optimal” commented Victor Shieh, Editor-in-Chief of the portal PortOverview Africa. In the first four months until April 19th in 2015, registered 735 incidents in African ports, of which 36% were congestion-related. 

Data from a SeaIntel Maritime Analysis study covering shipments over the last three years showed service level to shippers has remained static. “Overall, the chance a shipper has of a container arriving reliably at its African import destination is no better than it was three years ago. This is particularly true in the case of West Africa, where we have seen no real material improvement in vessel arrivals, average vessel dwell time or genuine advances in road and rail hinterland connections at the main large West African ports, perhaps with the exception of Luanda in the Southern range and Dakar in the Northern range” comments SeaIntel Maritime Analyst Morten Berg Thomsen. 

“Over three months have now passed since one of the major global players opted to inaugurate a main line service out of Asia into West Africa averaging 6500 TEU, with the specific aim of building a local feeder network in order to beat congestion and improve container delivery reliability. With elections in Togo at the end of the month, and delays at the Lome terminal following its opening last year, it still remains to be seen whether this bold gamble on local feeders will pay off” PortOverview Africa stated. 

“Since MSC officially commenced its Africa Express Service in late January with the arrival of the 8500 TEU Seroja Enam in Lome, we have tracked AIS data of a total of nine of its main line arrivals in Lome and nineteen of its feeder services. Of these, four main line vessels and nine feeders arrived within 24 hours of the scheduled arrival time, which is more or less in line with the average reliability of services from Asia to the African continent in the same time period in 2014. This excludes any service changes involving South African transhipments, Nigerian feeders or Lome’s terminal efficiency which is currently stable” comments Morten Berg Thomsen. 

Commenting to PortOverview Africa MSC said Africa Express is working well: “Since they are dedicated for our Asia Mother vessel, whenever we suffer a delay with the M/V, our feeders just wait to ensure the cargo gets connected. As volume decreased in Q1 (mainly due to Nigeria situation – Naira depreciation, lack of USD currency and election) we were able to adapt our feeder network to best respond to this situation and continue to ensure a good service for our customers. As soon as volumes are restored, we will readapt our fleet accordingly.” 

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