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Published: 24 December 2017      

Antwerp to manage Cotonou

Port of Antwerp International, the consultancy and investment subsidiary of Antwerp Port Authority, has been appointed by the Council of Ministers of the West African country of Benin to modernise the port of Cotonou

Bénin currently handles around 12 Mtpa. In the longer term, the port authority wants the port to grow further, but "both the infrastructure and the organisation are outdated. The government therefore decided to temporarily outsource the management of the port."

Antwerp port alderman Marc Van Peel, who is also chairman of PAI, said: “We are delighted that the Bénin government has opted for the expertise and knowhow of Antwerp. With our subsidiaries APEC [training] and PAI we have been working for a long time on the passing on and sharing of knowledge and experience, in order to strengthen the worldwide network of our port and to ensure that Antwerp is and remains top of mind at the international level of decision makers in the maritime world.

"The importance of West Africa for the port of Antwerp can hardly be underestimated. Antwerp has the highest proportion of direct services to West Africa of all ports in Northwest Europe, which translates into a market share of almost 50%.

PAI already carried out various consultancy tasks in the port of Cotonou in 2017. The government decided to temporarily outsource the management of the port, so that a reformed port authority could fully compete with the surrounding ports. After a selection procedure and negotiations, an agreement with PAI was reached.

 “Our main task will be to modernise the port authority in organisational terms, renovate the obsolescent facilities and prepare for and guide the expansion of the port,” said Kristof Waterschoot, managing director of PAI.

In the short term PAI will take over some key functions within the port authority, in order to study the processes from the inside.

PAI is seeking to recruit eight ex-pats who will carry out the task on the ground. “For example we’re looking for a CEO and a Chief Financial Officer, but we have the explicit aim under the terms of our remit to organise management training courses for local managers, to prepare them for a gradual transfer of these key functions,” explained Waterschoot. For this purpose PAI will among others call upon APEC, the training centre for the port of Antwerp."


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