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Mungatana urges African nations to expand ports and spur maritime trade

27 August 2014, 14:13

Nairobi - Kenya on Tuesday called on African governments to urgently expand their ports so as not to lose out on the resurgent global maritime trade.

Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) chairman Danson Mungatana told a regional maritime conference in Nairobi that most of the African ports are experiencing between 10-12 percent growth.

"Over the last decade, the global maritime trade has been expanding. It is expected to grow by an average 7.5 percent over the next six years to around 840 million TEUs (Twenty Foot Equivalent Units) in 2016," Mungatana told delegates drawn from various countries in the region at the East Africa Transport Infrastructure Conference.

TEUs is a unit of cargo used to measure the capacity of ships and container terminals.

Mungatana said most ports in Africa will be unable to handle the bigger ships currently being built, owing to lack of capacity and use of old equipment.

"This will deny African countries, especially those on the coastline, the benefits of increased maritime trade," the KPA chairman said.

He said the growing number of large vessels currently in use is necessitating port expansion in the continent.

In 1996, the largest vessel size had a capacity of 4,000 TEUs, rising to 6,000 TEUs in 2001 and 16,000 TEUs in 2011.

Mungatana said the steady increase in ship sizes coupled with growing cargo volumes has put pressure on cargo infrastructure and terminal capacities the world over, in particular for African ports which have capacity constraints and poor transport infrastructure connectivity.

He added that many European ports were on rebound after shedding the effects of the global financial crisis, and were therefore investing heavily in capacity expansion.

"African ports must align themselves with their European counterparts in order to remain competitive."

According to the United Nations, Africa accounts for a paltry two percent of international trade.

- Xinhua

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