AGL into Walvis Bay, Lobito


MSC’s Africa Global Logistics now operates Namibian Walvis Bay and Angolan Lobito terminals, expanding its Southern African presence.

MSC offshoot Africa Global Logistics (AGL) recently took over as operator of Namibian Walvis Bay Multipurpose Bulk Terminal under a concession of unspecified length, as it seeks to expand its operations in Southern Africa. Namibian port landlord Namport launched the tender process at the start of 2023.

In a statement, AGL said: “AGL’s objective is also to support Namibia’s energy, mining and industrial projects by offering integrated services that meet the highest international standards.”

The company, which was previously known as Bolloré Transport & Logistics (BTL) and was taken over by MSC in December 2022, is still in the process of adjusting to its new ownership.

This leaves Walvis Bay in an unusual situation, with the port’s other main facility, the container terminal, operated by another MSC subsidiary, Terminal Investment Limited (TiL), under a concession it secured in October 2022. The container terminal was built on reclaimed land by China Harbour Engineering Company.

AGL President Philippe Labonne has previously said that the two companies are very different, with TiL more of a global operator and AGL a regional player. However, in addition to the latter’s 17 container terminals and seven ro-ro or con-ro terminals in Africa, it has recently expanded into Haiti and East Timor.

In a statement, AGL said: “The acquisition of AGL aims to diversify the business of the MSC family and extend it in Africa, a continent in which the MSC Group expects to see sustainable growth.” It will therefore be interesting to see whether both terminals are brought under the same brand in the near future. Even if they remain under separate management, it is likely that there will be scope for some cooperation and savings through synergies.

Walvis Bay, which is the country’s largest commercial port, has sought to offer an alternative to South African ports by strengthening transport links with South Africa and Botswana in particular but also the wider Southern African Development Community (SADC) market over the past few years. It is also located closer to European and North American eastern seaboard ports than Transnet-operated facilities in South Africa.

Lobito concession

AGL has also intriguingly begun its concession – again of unspecified length – to operate Lobito container and multipurpose terminals in neighbouring Angola. However, the two lie almost 1,200km apart, serve different geographical regions, and another Angolan international port, Namibe, lies between them.

The amount of money AGL is committed to investing in the terminal has increased from €100M, when the concession was originally awarded last October, to €200M this April. Lobito, which has a 1,200m quay and depth of 14m, currently has annual handling capacity of more than 1M tpa and in excess of 100,000 TEU/year according to AGL, which has now renamed the container terminal AGL Lobito Terminal.

The container terminal has storage capacity for 12,000 TEU with 320 reefer storage points, two ship-to-shore gantry cranes and four quay cranes. Lobito, which is the second biggest port in Angola, is benefitting from the upgrade of the Benguela railway from Lobito to Luau on the Congolese border, which was completed in 2014.

AGL into Walvis Bay, Logito

There are now rival plans to extend it into Zambia, either directly or through Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo). That project is targeted at handling copper, cobalt and other mining commodities but will also support agricultural commodities and container traffic from the centre of South Africa. It was interesting that the AGL concession launch event was attended by officials from Zambia and the DR Congo, as well as from Angola and the company itself.

AGL President Philippe Labonne said: “The connection of this port to the existing Benguela railway network extending over 1,300 km and to the future railway line to Zambia will allow, thanks to the actions to improve the productivity of this platform, a substantial reduction in the time for the transport of goods.”

Under the agreement, AGL will take on the 730 staff currently employed by the Empresa Portuária do Lobito EP port authority and is developing a training programme to expand their existing skills.

APMT’s CFS at Port of Onne

APM Terminals opened a new container freight station (CFS) at its West Africa Container Terminal (WACT) at Port of Onne, Nigeria. The operator hopes that the facility, which includes new warehouses, will ease and speed up cargo processing, including of agricultural products and solid minerals, while “ensuring just-in-time service delivery through efficient stuffing and swift transfers to the port”.

Port of Onne is located in Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone, near Port Harcourt at the heart of the Niger Delta, at the head of an inlet that connects it with the Gulf of Guinea. The port serves the Delta, southeastern Nigeria and the country’s large oil industry but the new facility fits into the government’s strategy to diversify the region’s economy by promoting non-oil exports.

Despite pollution caused by the oil industry, the local state governments hope to encourage agricultural production and exports, with WACT now offering reefer racks with 600-plug capacity.

The operator said in a statement: “This strategic investment brings WACT a step closer towards its strategic vision of becoming the ‘gateway to eastern Nigeria and beyond’.”

WACT was originally built following the introduction of the public private partnership framework introduced by Nigeria’s new civilian government in 2003. The terminal now has five mobile harbour cranes, 20 rubber tyred gantry cranes and three reach stackers, as a result of US$115M investment in Onne Terminal Upgrade Project.

A new four-lane in-gate system was completed at the terminal in early April to improve security as well as make truck arrivals and departures more efficient, with the aim of reducing truck turnaround times below 45 minutes under the Truck Appointment System.

Volumes at the terminal, which has annual handling capacity of 360,000 TEU/year, have increased since APM Terminals’ sister company, Maersk Line, began including it on one of its Far East container services. It had previously relied on feeder services from the Lagos ports, which are located further west.

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