PORT OPERATIONS & SHIPPING

Ghana 2018 | TRANSPORT | B2B

With the right infrastructure, shipping services in Ghana are poised to make the country West Africa's maritime transshipment hub.

Mohammed Samara
MOHAMMED SAMARA
CEO
Meridian Port Services (MPS)
Alessandro Coppa
ALESSANDRO COPPA
Country Manager
Savino del Bene Ghana

How do you position yourself within the competitive shipping sector?

MOHAMMED SAMARA We are the best operating container terminal in western central Africa; in fact, we are the best operating terminal in Africa in terms of productivity and speed behind the line efficiency. The only difference is that we have a limitation in terms of infrastructure, draft, depth of our port, and capacity of the quay wall. Moreover, the existing port was built on granite, and to deepen it we need to cut into hard rock. We have the geography and internal volume base to make Ghana a good crossroads. Tema is the largest port from Morocco to Namibia. Ghana is the second-largest economy after Nigeria, though we have a bigger volume than any of the Nigerian ports. We have the potential to market the transshipment to other smaller ports through our new facility.

ALESSANDRO COPPA Savino del Bene has always distinguished itself with a policy aimed at customer loyalty, creating a real synergy with our clients and suppliers. Today's challenge is maintaining our identity as an intermediary agent of logistics and international shipments, a concept today that is increasingly absorbed by integrated structures that only care about numbers. Our services are the result of a thorough work of construction and activities studied and programmed considering all possible uncertainties. Globalization is leading, perhaps too fast, to a world that is becoming increasingly smaller with a need for a speed that is not there; however, we seek to provide all the possible solutions. For example, in the event of unforeseeable situations, we have created teams of people specialized in the individual sectors of activity that can intervene and find a solution in the shortest time possible.

What is your growth strategy for your business in Ghana and beyond?

MS Ghana is right in the heart of West Africa, which is the most populated region in Africa with about 300-400 million people. They are fairly young and, the population will multiply rapidly and represent the future consumer market for personal products, clothing, food, gadgets, and more. One of the West African countries has to truly champion the ECOWAS treaty to create a safe haven for investors to invest in manufacturing and distribution. To be able to do that, the country requires a great deal of investment in its transport infrastructure, such as in Ivory Coast. We also need to relax our economy and open up to international trade with modern policies where we revisit the laws of the land regarding imports and exports and cater for future transshipment.

AC For over a decade, Savino del Bene has created teams dedicated to the major vertical markets that are interested in global trade such as fashion, oil and gas, renewable energies, FMCG, and pharmaceuticals. As far as Ghana goes, we are mainly focused on the transport of oil and gas, and we will continue to focus on that, improving efficiencies. Our geographical growth and expansion has always been calm and slow, especially in Africa. This is mainly because of our difficulties in regard to bureaucracies, regulations, and limitations by the authorities. Our decisions here need to be more cautious, which is why we are investing more in human resource development in Ghana.

What have been the recent developments with the Tema Port expansion?

MS We started the project in November 2016 by mobilizing the contractor, and from January 2017, it has been full steam ahead. We are 2.1km into the sea on breakwater. China Harbor Engineering Company won the big marine contract, which is the 3.55km-long breakwater construction. It goes out straight into the sea for about 1.6km and then bends and goes on to form the shelter for the harbor basin for another 2km. We are also reclaiming 127ha in two phases; the first phase involves 98ha and we will build a quay wall that measures 1.4km. That will have four berths and handle four mega vessels at the same time. We are gearing it with a combination of cranes that can handle existing and future vessels.

What are your expectations for 2018?

AC It is necessary to stay up to date and adapt to the development of new technologies, though it is necessary and fundamental to provide continuity on all activities. Savino del Bene Ghana expects to be the springboard for development in West Africa for 2018. The positive trend of Savino del Bene in the last 10 years will be confirmed for 2017, and we will expand and grow our network and activities in 2018 as well.