Open Journal of Applied Sciences, 2012, 2, 294-297
doi:10.4236/ojapps.2012.24043 Published Online December 2012 (
Port and Shipping Express Management: The Challenges
Faced by West and Central Africa in This Century
Regine Adele Ngono Fouda
Department of Logistics Management, Shanghai Maritime University (SMU), Shanghai, China
Received September 26, 2012; revised October 26, 2012; accepted November 12, 2012
Shipping industry has become more capital intensive, technically more demanding and subject to major global regula-
tory reforms. As a consequence, the number of African shipping lines has been severely reduced. International trade of
the WCA countries remains weak, limited to 30% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The go al of this paper is to
provide a comprehensive overview of the port and shipping convey management in the WCA region, and of course to
describe what has been achieved since then and what still have to be done to better its infrastructures and port commu-
Keywords: WCA; Shippin g Con vey; Port s Sect ors; Ineffectiveness & Dispr o po rt io n; Constraints; Contai neri zat i on;
Port Reforms; Competence & Management
1. Introduction
Maritime transport is growing at a high pace. In a global
context, WCA maritime transport and port sectors face
several long-term trends such as: Ship size, (container
ships), unstable tariffs, and port infrastructure. The ap-
plication of measures to enhance security, by th e Interna-
tional Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS) Code,
requires continuing attention. Also Poverty reduction
mainly depends on economic growth, of which trade ex-
pansion is a linchpin. For the past decades, WCA ports
remain largely outside several global trends. However,
due to current traffic and port efficiency, shipping lines
strategies seem legitimate. Africa accounts for less than
1% of world container traffic. Moreover, WCA need to
improved links between a port and its hinterland, these
are the only solutions for small ports to ensure increased
traffic, which will result in decreasing maritime transport
tariffs. Otherwise, ports will become increasingly mar-
ginalized. These global developments challenge the
countries in WCA, but also offer [1] an opportunity to
implement overdue reforms like improving areas around
ports and better management.
2. Shipping & Port Sectors in WCA: An
2.1. Port Ownership and Management Mainly
Public Service Model
WCA lags behind in terms of global trends affecting port
sector because port concentration is predominantly pub-
licly-owned. For example, Lagos, Abidjan, Dakar and
Douala. These ports account for almost 30% of the total
port traffic in WCA (even though not a single port is
ranked in the top 70 ports worldwide) (see Table 1).
2.2. Containerization Lingers Low despite
In Africa, containerization has grown (10% annually)
more than three times compared to economic growth.
However, containerized rate of traffic remains low and
marginal in the world.
2.3. Ports Are Costly for Shippers and Shipping
Due to numerous constraints, port charges are high for
shippers. Shipping lines face congestion costs (about $5
million) and poor port productivity. So, Delmas calcu-
lated 146 days in 2004.
2.4. Shipping Lines Strategies to Cope with
The agreements between shipping companies, known as
Conferences in WCA. Changes in such agreements have
resulted from mergers and takeovers in shipping lines
industry, because of the 1974 Code of Conduct for Liner
Conferences and the 40-40-20 rule. UNCTAD [2,3]
recommended reforms based on: 1) Liberalization with
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. OJAppS
R. A. N. FOUDA 295
Table 1. Total container traffic in west and central Africa
(in TEUs).
Côte d’Ivoire Abidjan 670,000
Nigeria Lagos 650,000
Ghana Tema 342,882
Senegal Dakar 331,191
Angola Luanda 235,411
Cameroon Douala 156,000
Benin Cotonou 97,801
Guinea Conakry 47,000
Congo, DRC Matadi 46,000
Gambia Banjul 44,152
Togo Lomé 42,240
Gabon Libreville 39,000
Congo, Rep. Pointe Noire 30,000
Sierra Leone Freetown 25,000
Mauritania Nouadhibou 21,000
complex mix to ensure the competitiveness; 2) Regu-
latory and promotional policies, to ensure national ope-
rators and best available conditions for users.
2.5. Inadequate Shipping Services
Shipping lines face increased costs in WCA mainly for
poor port efficiency, low traffic and inadequate/insuf-
ficient port equipment. Although the number of vessels
docking at West African coasts has grown from 15,000
to 20,000 during the year 2000, there is still a lot more to
3. The Ineffectiveness and Disproportion of
WCA Ports
3.1. Ports Organization Greatly Impacts Port
3.1.1. Impact of Port Efficiency on Port Productivity
and Costs
Systematic comparative information is not available on
cargo handling performance in many ports of WCA.
Therefore dwell time may vary between 7 days in Abi-
djan and 17 days in Douala [4,5].
3.1.2. Importance of a Legal Setting
The institutional framework of a port in WCA depended
primarily of French or the British model. The French
model usually placed the ports under établissement pub-
lic, (an incorporated government agency). While British
model, port authorities were also incorporated but usual-
ly enjoyed autonomy.
3.2. Awkward Measure and Poor Links to
Hinterlands Diminish Port Competence
Port’s need quality and fluidity of land transport net-
works (which costs relatively high in WCA, on account
of distances) [6]. e.g. Lomé’s port implemented a pro-
gram, “Solidarity on the water” aiming to promote tran-
sit operations destined to landlocked coun tries.
3.3. Port Physical Constraints in WCA
3.3.1. Location Constraint for the Sustainability of
Certain Ports
The location of many long established ports such as La-
gos-Apapa makes them difficult for their sustainability in
the future.
3.3.2. Port Capacit y Usually Results from Inadequate
Only Abidjan (3 cranes), Lagos, Tema, Dakar and Do-
uala, (2 cranes) are equipped with gantry cranes in con-
tainer terminals [7].
3.3.3. Port Capacity Could Become a Serious
Challenge in the Future
Larger ships are more demanding in terms of installa-
tions. The ship to shore gantry cranes need to be suffi-
ciently large to reach all the containers (a depth up to 14
meters) [8-10].
3.4. Port Performance in WCA, Slow Motion as
Seen in Table 2 Below
Table 2. Average port delays… [11].
Region Range of truck
cycle times Range of container
dwell times
East Africa 3.5 hours to 1 day 5 to 28 days
Southern Africa 2 to 12 hours 4 to 8 days
West Africa 6 hours to 1 day 11 to 30 days
4. Thriving Model: Case Study of Nigeria
Port Sector
Nigeria ports have for a long time been globally recog-
nized as one of the least efficient. Nevertheless approval
was by the President or the Minister. In 2005, a reform
process was initiated, with the adoption of the “Land-
lord” model, where the public sector is responsible for
regulation of the sector, port planning, and the ownership
of port land and infrastructure. The private sector would
be responsible for marine and terminal operations, super
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. OJAppS
structure and equipment. The agreed reform included:
Creation of two Autonomous Port and Harbor Authori-
ties Creation of a National Transport Regulatory Com-
mission; limiting the role of the Government, while Pri-
vate operators perform operations, reforms as: Legal and
regulatory reform and Labor reform. In 2006 the initial
concessions became operational. Within a few months of
private operation of the Lagos container terminals, pro-
ductivity went up. Chronic delays for berthing space had
nearly vanished, leading to the reduction of congestion
(surcharge from Euro 525 in March 2006 just before
concessioning to Euro 75 in January 2007). Therefore
reduction in congestion earned Nigerian economy about
$200 million annually. As part of a broader program of
port reform in early 2006, the Nigerian Ports Authority
awarded a concession to APM Terminals to manage,
operate, and develop the Apapa container terminal, in-
creasing capacity from 220,000 TEUs/year to 1.6 mil-
lion TEUs. Within months, shipping lines reduced their
congestion, saving their economy $200 million a year.
By early 2009, new gantry cranes had been acquired.
However, although the port’s equip ment is able to handle
more than 500 containers per day for customs examina-
tions, the majority are returned to stacking by the end of
each day. By January 2009, the port was clogged by un-
collected containers, and at the end of February, the Ports
Authority announced a temporary suspension of ship
entry, lasting until mid-April, to clear “alarming” back-
logs. The controller of Customs Service for Apapa
blamed the low clearance volume on the need to physi-
cally examine every container because of high false dec-
laration by importers. However, even cleared containers
were not collected. By January, end, out of 9741 con-
tainers, only 851 had been cleared by customs, with all
charges paid with documentation by agents. Ports Au-
thority consequently proposed demurrage charges of $4
per TEU in a bid to force owners to move their contai-
ners. In their turn, the containers’ agents blamed a lack of
trucks, arguing that many had been booked.
(Source: Press reports assembled by C. Bert Kruk,
World Bank, ILO) [12].
5. Strategic Analysis
The Nigerian ports as well as WCA ports have not been
able to integrate into global trends. Yet, their current
challenges may be an opportunity in future development.
Due to their new reforms, the Apapa port has witness a
lot of progress, which has increased capacity from
220,000 TEU per year as well as the economy to $200
million. Congestion has gradually reduced. This let me
evaluate, that the port operation by the public (president
or minister) is costly and worthless, while the private
operators have made it possible that larger ship can be
served, infrastructure consideration, productivity to mini-
mize turnaround time and country’s economic stability.
Government operators can only appraise administratively,
whereas, businessmen see into a future expansion of the
port terminals. Though all these notions, more improve-
ments are needed.
6. Recommendation and Conclusions
In recommendation, eventually in conclusion, the re-
cently observed development of larger vessels calling
WCA as well as prospect for even larger vessels being
used, offers an opportunity for reduction in shipping
costs, provided that necessary maritime transport, land
transport and port reforms are undertaken. The main ob-
jectives of upcoming reforms for Governments should be
aimed at: *facilitating procedures and controls in ports,
such as procedures affecting turnaround time, dwell time
and handling costs [13]: *facilitating trade and land trans-
port outside the port on the main trade corridors: *
proving port access in view to develop multimodal trans-
port. Areas around ports are usually cong ested and inves-
ting in road infrastructure to improve port access: *fos-
tering private sector participation both to provide invest-
ment for new installations and equipment: *increasing
competition among shipping lines in countries where
informal barriers to market entry still prevail: develop ing
knowledge sharing between ports and countries on cur-
rent port reforms in the region: *carrying out cost-benefit
analysis of current port management and efficiency in
countries facing very high port charges and high mari-
time transport rates.
Moreover, there is need to reduce dwell times and
handling costs, countries need as well to invest in infor-
mation systems, communications technology, and modern
customs practices. Customs procedures, in particular, act
as a bottleneck to port efficiency when they are out-
dated or open to corruption. Also, Striving for efficient
ports must be complemented by associated measures to
increase transparency and reduce corruption in customs
administration [14]. The African ports, like all world
ports, must create port community systems not only to
improve productivity and efficiency but also to respond
to the growing importance of and future obligation in
supply chain security. I personally th ink that, if all WCA
port follows most of these recommendations (even 50%
of it); there will be a drastic charge in their respective
ports, which will shoot them at a top world record.
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