Red Sea crisis overwhelms African port operations

Red Sea crisis overwhelms African ports operations

The shipping disruptions in the Red Sea and Suez Canal have had a significant impact on African port operations, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The Port of Aden in Yemen, on the eastern approach to the Red Sea, and Port Said in Egypt, near the mouth of the Suez Canal, witnessed a decrease in vessel calls in the first quarter of the year following substantial disruptions to commerce in the area.

Business at the key African container ports improved year-over-year (YoY) in Q4 2023, with several of the main ports experiencing an increase in vessel calls and container movements, putting further demand on the region’s terminal and port infrastructure.

With a few exceptions, terminals in Africa failed to keep up with increased calls and container volumes, resulting in longer ship wait times and decreased ocean and yard productivity at several of Africa’s major ports.

READ: The multifaceted impact of the Red Sea crisis

Port productivity fell by more than 18 per cent at the main African ports, owing mostly to a significant worsening in vessel waiting times.

However, despite large increases in container capacity, the ports of Tanger-Med and Mombasa managed to improve productivity.

READ: Sharp surge in shipping emissions predicted amid Red Sea crisis

Yard productivity at the key African ports fell in Q4 2023, according to S&P Global.

Import container dwell time reportedly rose by almost 10 per cent to 5.4 days, while export container dwell time jumped by nearly 90 per cent to more than 8.5 days.

Almost one-third of the bottom 50 ports in the World Bank-S&P Global Market Intelligence Container Port Performance Index are in Sub-Saharan Africa, where inefficient ports continue to impede the continent’s trade sector development and hinder ambitions for greater participation in international supply chains.

Recently, more than half of the UK’s export businesses suffered the brunt of violence-induced disruptions to crucial trade routes along the Red Sea.

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