East Africa – the next growth trade?

Somewhat overshadowed by more prominent trade lane upgrades, such as the past years’ constant increase of vessel sizes in West African ports or this year’s massive up-gauge of the Far East to South America route, liner services to and from East Africa have recently experienced a series of successive upgrades in the very recent past.

While the trade still sees numerous challenges, such as an under-developed port sector, inadequate terminal capacity and a substandard infrastructure, many carriers seem to strategically position themselves to gain a stronger foothold in East Africa.

Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique not only have the potential to grow their own trade, but can also serve as maritime gateways to their landlocked neighbours Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as for the south of the or semi-landlocked Sudan.

While most of the East Africa trade is still served with fairly small ships, a growth scenario like in West Africa does not seem unlikely. If West Africa’s key ports continue to develop their volumes and capabilities at the present pace, today’s ‘Wafmax’ ships, geared compact 250m x 37.5m vessels, might actually end up in East Africa once replaced by larger tonnage in the trade for which they were designed. It seems only a matter of time, when East Africa steps up one league and the recent changes in service structure underline the trend.

Thus, here below linervision would like to offer a quick summary of the most recent developments relevant to the area.

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