Expanding ports and roads
The number of refugees fleeing wars has dominated the headlines over the past few months. In many regions of Africa life is continuing in its more or less normal way though. Happily, ebola has largely been overcome and thus been pushed off the front pages. The exceptions are positive: Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, for example, was racked by the disease last year. Today the country is recovering well.
«Business as usual», one is tempted to say, when assessing the situation of the transport industry in Africa. Optimistic news, concerning port expansion projects, for example, is part of the image. One example is Djibouti’s Doraleh Container Terminal (see ITJ 31-34 / 2015, page 22). Good links to other parts of the world provide ideal conditions in which to create a more promising future. There is more good news from Africa too: the effects of the ebola crisis are slowly ebbing away.
In this context Joseph N. Boakai, the vice-president of Liberia, took the opportunity presented by a US-Liberia trade and investment forum held in New York on 16 September to express his confidence in Liberia’s recovery from the consequences of last year’s ebola virus crisis – not least thanks to the support of the country’s many international friends. The positive economic growth in the West African country is also having a knock-on effect onto the nation’s ports.
George Adjei, the managing director of APM Terminals Liberia, confirms this assessment. Cargo throughput in the free port of Monrovia, which APM Terminals has operated since 2010 and which handles more than 90% of Liberia’s foreign trade, surged by 30% in the first half of 2015, compared with the first six months of 2014. Throughput in the centre came to 79,000 teu in 2014. «Annual container throughput in Monrovia will exceed 100,000 teu for the first time by the end of this year – and that’s a sign of a very healthy Liberian economy,» Adjei added.
Improving landside infrastructure
Some of the government officials at the event in New York commented on the great potential for growth in the Liberian agricultural segment. They simultaneously pointed to the necessity of improving the country’s inland transport infrastructure, particularly roads. «Less than 800 km of the nation’s 10,000 km of roads are properly paved,» one of them said. Improved road and rail transport- ation could also enable Monrovia to serve as a gateway for other African cities further inland, as well as for commercial centres in neighbouring Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast.
APM Terminals Liberia recently embarked on the second phase of an investment project to upgrade and modernise the free port worth USD 120 million. Following the completion of a USD 50 million reconstruction undertaking for a 600 m quay wall earlier this year, USD 34.5 million is now being spent on further improvements to the landside equipment in the facility. The project covers yard pavement measures, improved drainage systems, the construction of new offices and cargo gates, as well as biometric access control systems, CCTV, GPS capability and the ability to offer real-time cargo movement updates. The overall project is expected to be completed within the next two years.
Adjei added that «we’re hoping to add another 200 m quay, in order to accommodate Liberian growth and economic expansion. On top of this we’re set to double the facility’s annual box capacity to no less than 200,000 teu by 2017. Liberia’s recovery is a fact – and we’re ready to participate in it,» he closed.
Technical support for road network improvements in Guinea
The government of the West African republic of Guinea has awarded a EUR 4.4 million technical assistance contract to the joint venture Louis Berger-Egis International. It is expected to contribute to the sustainable improvement of the country’s road network. The European Development Fund is financing the undertaking. The contract is to ameliorate Guinea’s road capacities and its public transport infrastructure. Pascal Houdeau, Louis Berger’s deputy GM for Western and Eastern Africa, pointed out that «poor transport infrastructure has a negative impact on development, as it slows down mobility and increases the cost of goods and services unnecessarily.»
The contract will support efforts to reform the regulation and organisation of Guinea’s road network. These efforts are simultaneously expected to lower mobility costs and thus also reduce consumer prices, which should benefit the country’s poorest communities. The contract will also seek to integrate best national and urban planning practices into urban transport policies. The project is part of the European Union’s EUR 83 million support project for the transport sector in Guinea.