A collaboration agreement was signed today, Thursday 24 May, in the port of Antwerp between on the one side Port of Antwerp International (PAI), the consultancy and investment subsidiary of Antwerp Port Authority, and APEC, its maritime training centre, and on the other Gambia Ports Authority which manages the port of Banjul in The Gambia. The collaboration, which will mainly take the form of training and consulting, underlines the leading role that the port of Antwerp plays in West Africa.

As part of a visit to Belgium the delegation from The Gambia headed by H.E. President Adama Barrow today also called at the port of Antwerp. After a guided tour of the port the programme continued with signature of the collaboration agreement between the ports of Antwerp and Banjul.

Memorandum of Understanding

The MoU was signed in Antwerp Port House by Kristof Waterschoot, CEO of PAI and APEC, and Abdoulie Tambedou, Managing Director of Gambia Ports Authority. Under the terms of this agreement the port of Antwerp will play an advisory role, while the two sides will examine how the ports can collaborate even more closely in future. In whatever case training will certainly play an important role. Abdoulie Tambedou, Managing Director of Gambia Ports Authority, explained: “The port of Antwerp, where the synergy between maritime, logistics and industrial activities creates a unique platform, is an inspiring example for our own port of Banjul. We are most impressed with Antwerp and so are very pleased with this collaboration agreement that will allow us to call upon its expertise. We look towards the future with great confidence.”

Importance of West Africa

Out of all the ports in North-West Europe, Antwerp has the highest number of direct services to West Africa, resulting in a market share of nearly 50%. “We are very pleased with this closer collaboration with The Gambia,” declared port alderman Marc Van Peel who is also chairman of PAI. “With our subsidiaries APEC and PAI we have long sought to pass on our know-how and experience so as to further develop the worldwide network of our own port. West Africa is a very important region for us, and it is our ambition to further strengthen our position there. A good example of this is the collaboration with Benin to modernise the port of Cotonou, which opted to entrust us with the whole management of the port for a limited period.”

Focus on training

With its maritime training centre APEC the port of Antwerp has a specialist institute that provides tailor-made training courses. APEC has been training maritime professionals from all over the world since 1977. Kristof Waterschoot, CEO of PAI and APEC, explained: “APEC has already trained 130 or so port professionals from Banjul here in Antwerp. This collaboration agreement is an extension of that process, and in addition there are now plans to set up training for the dock workers locally in The Gambia. The collaboration underlines the ambition of PAI to consolidate and further develop its already strong position in West Africa.”