Country FilesWestBENIN | The biggest of West Africa’s small ports


Posted on Monday, 09 July 2018 15:18

BENIN | The biggest of West Africa’s small ports

The Port of Cotonou accounts for 90% of foreign trade.

Progress has been made in the operation of the Port of Cotonou, although there is still investment required for its infrastructure upgrades. Port management, which has just been outsourced to Port of Antwerp International, is being constantly improved to ensure greater efficiency and security.

A hub for Beninese and sub-regional trade, the Port of Cotonou accounts for 90% of foreign trade and over 60% of the country’s GDP. In addition to serving landlocked Niger, it is also used by Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Mali. Investments have been made over the past few years to ensure that its slogan, “the biggest of West Africa’s small ports”, becomes a reality. The steady decline in its results (see statistical table) in recent years can be put down, in particular, to the country’s economic climate and neighbouring Nigeria’s economic crisis. However, the planned investments under the Government Action Programme (GAP) for the port as well as economic recovery should enable an improvement in port traffic.

The expertise of the Antwerp Port Authority
Improving the Port of Cotonou’s efficiency and performance and increasing its revenues are also the reasons for the government signing a management agreement with Port of Antwerp International (PAI), a subsidiary of the Antwerp Port Authority. This contract includes modernising the infrastructure, organising the port area, building capacity in the local team and the computerisation of the data system. An initial period of three months will allow PAI to settle in, before starting the execution of its contract under a three-year mandate, renewable twice depending on its results and achieving set performance indicators.

In signing this contract, the government is delivering on its promise of letting the private sector manage certain economic activities wherever possible. Antwerp is the port in North-West Europe with the highest proportion of direct services to West Africa. PAI had already conducted a number of consultancy tasks for the Port of Cotonou in 2017.

Substantial investments with the Millennium Challenge Account
Before this agreement with PAI, a substantial amount of work had already been carried out at the port over the past few years. To improve its capacity and services by preventing the silting up of the channel, the port’s sand-stopping jetty was extended by 300 metres at a cost of €22.2 million around the start of 2010. An investment of $169 million allowed for the delivery of two new 600-metre quays each with a 15-metre draught to accommodate the latest generation container ships. This new infrastructure was built under the port component of the Millennium Challenge Account-Benin Compact (MCA-Benin).

In the same context, two new 250-place parking lots for trucks were delivered, roads around the port were extended and rehabilitated and security improved (CCTV, lighting, fire protection system). These all contribute to the decongestion of areas around the port, which is located in the centre of Cotonou. New infrastructure was also built by Bolloré Africa Logistics, a container terminal concession holder since 2009, to increase annual container traffic to a million twenty-foot equivalents (TEUs) in the long term.

Deep-water oil and ore port to be built
At the end of November, the government announced the signing of an agreement with Pic Network Limited of the Petrolin Group for the building of a commercial deep-water oil and ore port in the Sèmè-Kpodji municipality, east of Cotonou. The project, which is estimated to cost hundreds of billions of CFA francs, will be developed over an area of more than 1,000 hectares. The objectives of this public-private partnership (PPP) include, among others, “a more efficient response to needs for a global increase of goods transit capacities, and to provide services complementary to those of the Port of Cotonou”, stated the Council of Ministers




From the June 2018 supplement to The Africa Report, INVESTING BENIN


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