Earnings from East African ports improve

Thursday March 28 2019

Cargo at a Kenya Ports Authority yard in Mombasa. PHOTO | NMG


The operation of East African ports to GDP grew between 2013 and 2017, as their Southern African competitors registered a drop, a new report shows.

Dynamar’s East and Southern Africa Container Trades 2019 Report says East African ports’ contribution to GDP rose from 34 per cent in 2013 to 40 per cent in 2017 as South Africa experienced a 5 per cent drop from $367 billion to $349 billion over the same period.

Darron Wadey, a shipping analyst, attributes the improved performance of the ports of Dar es Salaam and Mombasa to increased business from the region’s landlocked countries, which has increased the number of containers handled by the ports.

“Mombasa and Dar es Salaam are competing for hinterland cargo to Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. State controlled ports are under increasing pressure to improve and develop their strained infrastructure,” reads the report.

However, the port of Durban is still the largest port on the continent, with a 2,700,000 Teu capacity, compared with Mombasa’s 1,190,000 Teu.

Among the 22 ports that intercontinental liners calls at, five are on the East African coast, 10 in Southern Africa and the others on Indian Ocean islands.


East Africa’s ports handle more agricultural exports and imports of materials used for development, equipment and machinery and vehicles. In Southern Africa, minerals from Mozambique and Zimbabwe comprise the bulk of cargo.

The expansion of the Dar es Salaam port, which is aimed at improving effectiveness and efficiency under the Dar es Salaam Maritime Gateway project, is expected to end in 2020.

Last week, project manager, Anastazia Seledi said that increased traffic between 2011 and 2016 and intermodal connections put pressure on the port’s infrastructure, which handles 95 per cent of Tanzania’s external trade, necessitating the expansion.