By Gboyega Oni
The desire of Nigeria to become a regional port hub for freight in the West and Central Africa Region is losing steam as Dakar Port, Senegal and Port of Antwerp, Belgium this Friday sealed a collaboration deal.
The two ports are working expeditiously to collaborate closely in the next few years as Port of Antwerp, the second-largest port in Europe seeks to reinforce its historic position as leader on the coast of West Africa partnering Dakar Port.
The Dakar port on its part is leveraging on the collaboration as a way to position itself as the main regional hub for freight for the region.
This was contained in a release made available to PortNewsNigeria by APO Group.
According to APO Group, the two port authorities signed a Memorandum of Understanding this Friday in order to put an official seal on the future collaboration.
APO said Mr. Aboubacar Sedikh Beye signed for the Port Autonome de Dakar while Kristof Waterschoot, CEO of two subsidiaries of Antwerp Port Authority (PAI and APEC) , represented the Antwerp side.
The signing ceremony was attended by the Belgian first minister Charles Michel and deputy first minister and minister of Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo, both on a working visit to Senegal.
Crossroads of Dakar
With an annual freight volume of 17 million tonnes, Dakar is one of the largest ports on the coast of West Africa. This port city occupies a uniquely strong position on the world map, located at the crossroads of sailing routes between Europe on the one hand and North and South America and southern Africa on the other. Thanks to its excellent sea access, Dakar is one of the few West African ports that are able to handle ships of all dimensions at any time.
But now Dakar has set its sights higher and plans to build a new port 50 km away from the present facility which with a keel depth of 18 metres will be able to handle the latest generation of giant container carriers without difficulty. Together with the new port Dakar also plans an economic and logistics zone of 600 hectares.
“We will make use of our experience and expertise to help Dakar realise its ambitions,” declared Kristof Waterschoot after the signature. A recent report by the World Bank underlines the economic potential of the continent but also points up a number of challenges such as the lack of sufficiently trained personnel. “We will immediately step in to fill this gap, by sharing our know-how and expertise. Our training centre APEC remains the partner of choice for training maritime professionals, while our consultancy subsidiary PAI will assist the port authority with the necessary expertise for developing a multipurpose terminal and deepening the approach channels so as to maximise the capacity of the port of Dakar,” Waterschoot concluded.
The MoU also contains a number of commitments in the area of marketing, developing trade relations, organising joint commercial events and exchanging information on subjects such as customs & excise, security and sustainability. The agreement has been signed for a period of five years.