Lobito Invests For Transit Trade

BMI notes that the South African port of Cape Town is under increasing competition for transit business in southern Africa as ports in nearby Namibia and Angola invest in developing their own facilities. The Angolan port of Lobito is one facility that is being expanded along with investment in its intermodal links.

The Port of Lobito recently played host to two Chinese vessels carrying new equipment for the port - this included two ship-to-shore (STS) gantry cranes, rubber-tyre gantries, and another crane. This is part of the investment being made in developing the port's cargo handling facilities, taking advantage of Lobito's natural harbour in order to create an effective maritime facility. The government of Angola has invested US$1.2bn in the Port of Lobito to expand its handling capacity to 11mn tonnes. Empresa Portuaria Do Lobito chairman, Anapaz de Jesus Neto, said the funds have been used to construct a new import and export terminal for mining products, which is close to completion, as well as to extend the port's quay to allow 12 vessels to dock simultaneously. The port handled 88,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) and 2.7mn tonnes of cargo in 2011. A new container terminal is also being constructed, for which the cranes were being delivered.

BMI notes that the investment in the port is being done in tandem with investment in its intermodal connections, with refurbished railway lines connecting the facility to the rest of the Angolan rail network. A total of 2,700 kilometres of Angolan railroads were reconstructed in the last few years, according to Angola's Transport Minister Augusto Tomás. More than US$3.3bn was spent on three key railroads - Luanda, Benguela and Namibe. The reconstruction programme entailed the railroads and 148 stations, as well as included the cost of 243 units of rolling stock such as locomotives, wagons and coaches. The programme also involved the construction of workshops and professional training centres. The reconstruction work on the three railroads is being done by Chinese companies with financing from the Chinese government.

Getting Better Connected
Angola's Liner Connectivity Index Score

The improved rail network and enhanced handling capabilities of the Port of Lobito will help to entice transit trade to the port. The landlocked states of the SADC - Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and the DRC - have traditionally relied on their imports and exports being transited primarily through the South African port of Cape Town. Developments in Angolan freight transport capabilities present a challenge to Cape Town, as do similar developments in Namibia, where Walvis Bay, and the 'Walvis Bay Transit Corridor' are being heavily promoted ( see our online service, 'Walvis Bay Corridors Reports Record Cargo Volume In January', February 23 2012).

Further to the transit trade, the Angolan economy will also benefit from the improved freight transport capabilities. The Angolan economy is a rapidly growing one. From 2000 to 2009 economic growth averaged 11.0%, and while we estimate that this slowed in subsequent years as a result of the global downturn, we forecast that growth this year will pick up once again to 9.9%, followed by 8.1% growth in 2013, and to average 7.9% over our medium-term forecast period to 2017. Angola's score on UNCTAD's Liner Connectivity Index, which measures how connected to container shipping services a country is, has increased steadily over the period. Since the index's inception in 2004, when China set the base rate of 100, Angola has climbed from a score of 9.67 to its 2012 score of 13.95, a gain of 44.3%. With improved ports the country will be able to attract more major shipping lines, and its score will likely increase further in the coming years.

This article is tagged to:
Sector: Freight Transport, Shipping
Geography: Angola, Angola, Angola, Angola

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