FUTURE CAPE TOWN | The future of Africa’s ports

 “ports are now recognized as a gateway to economic growth”


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On Monday 26 August, the African Ports Evolution Forum kicked off at the Cape Town International Convention Centre where the future role and development of Africa’s ports was under the spotlight.

Cape Town owes it’s existence as a modern city due to the international marine trade which took place between the East and the West during the 17th century and 350 years later the role that Cape Town plays as a maritime city is still as relevant as it was all those years ago.

According to Alderman Ian Neilson, the City’s Executive Deputy Mayor and Mayoral Committee Member for Finance,  “there is an evolution that is currently taking place with Africa’s ports and Cape Town want to be a key player in the trajectory of this evolution. He added that  “ports are now recognized as a gateway to economic growth.”

Alan Winde, the Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, spoke about the critical role South African ports play in the passing of goods to the Southern African Development community. Cape Town is South Africa’s biggest port and in 2012 handled 2775 vessels. The majority of trade between sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the world is done so using marine transport and this trade volume is expected to rise.

“As Africa’s largest economy, South Africa has an important role to play in working with our neighbours to formulate best practices for the continent’s ports. This includes partnering with other strategic ports in Africa.” – Alan Winde.

Saldanha IDZ

Winde also mentioned that they are awaiting the imminent designation of the Industrial Development Zone in Saldanha Bay by the National Department of Trade and Industry. 14 700 jobs will be created in the Western Cape if the designation of the IDZ Saldanha Bay takes place.

Read more about Saldanha IDZ here.

Port of Cape Town 

The Western Cape Government, in collaboration with the City of Cape Town and the National Government, is developing a proposal for the redesign for the Port of Cape Town precinct. Emphasising the importance of the key development for the Western Cape’s ports.

“Now is the time for our continent to take its place on the global industrial stage, to make our voices heard, and become key role-players in decisions that are strategically important to the way industries around the world function.” says Neilson.

Buildings partnerships

Neilson also stated that we need to start changing “how our organisations are structured, and engage with our continental partners about how we can develop and expand and, in so doing, create economic and other opportunities for our residents.”

An important development  to note is that Cape Town’s Executive Mayor, Patricia de Lille,  has developed a relationship with Transnet, and more specifically the Port Authority of the port of Cape Town, and will soon be signing a Memorandum of Understanding which will formalise this relationship. Transnet has allocated large resources to the Port of Saldanha due to it’s strategic role it plays in the oil and gas sector and offers many opportunities for The City of Cape Town. These opportunities include the hosting of head-offices, providing business services and other marine, oil and gas industry support services.

Neilson says that he hopes Cape Town can become an entry-way for additional goods and cargo servicing for the reign as this will increase the activity of the ship-building industry here in the Western Cape.


1. Delgoff

Feature image courtesy of  Sky Scraper City