Africa is an important trading partner for the port of Antwerp, with 19 million tonnes of freight being carried between the two last year. Togo, Nigeria and South Africa are the number 1, 2 and 3 African countries respectively that generate the most intensive trade, with the focus mainly on liquid bulk, cars and containers. However the African continent is also rich in natural resources such as cacao, palm oil and rubber which at present go via other European ports. The challenge for Antwerp is to attract a larger share of this growing volume of trade.
This was one of the main conclusions of Club Afric, the annual networking event held in Antwerp where trade relations between the two regions are further reinforced and extended. This year’s event, the third to be organised, was held this week on the Left bank in Antwerp and attracted more than 100 attendees. Based on a number of presentations various speakers explained where the growth potential of Africa is to be found and where the port of Antwerp intends to lay the focus. In addition to expanding trade with West Africa, greater attention must also be paid to East Africa where countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania are sources of among others tobacco, tea and fertilisers.
In the autumn of 2017 the port of Antwerp will be sending a trade mission to Côte d’Ivoire, and a Port Day in Cameroon is also planned. The potential of both countries is being closely watched. In the meantime there is considerable enthusiasm for organising “Club Afric goes abroad,” with the event held once every five years in Africa.
Port of Antwerp International (PAI), the investment subsidiary of Antwerp Port Authority, has also been aiming at Africa for some time now. At the beginning of this month PAI announced during a mission headed by Flemish minister Ben Weyts that it will make a financial contribution towards development of a logistics platform in the port of San Pedro. The Belgian group Sea-Invest will play a leading role in this initiative. The total price tag for the project is 5.5 million euros, of which 35% will be financed by PAI. This is actually the first concrete investment by the port of Antwerp in West Africa. The platform is expected to be operational by around the summer period next year.