News & Publications

Port Challenges in West Africa

At first glance, the many ocean ports dotting the Western and Central African coastline may suggest a robust economy and well developed transportation network. As many shippers to this
region know, quantity does not mean quality in this case. Selecting the best gateway to import your goods into Africa could mean the difference between an on-time delivery and upwards of
a 6 month delay.

The ports in Africa are mainly owned by each country and as such, are dependent on current socio-economic conditions. Many countries have privatized port operations; however, regional
or state instability still negatively impacts port operations as well as customs processes and transportation networks feeding to/from the port. In addition, port operations are inconsistent
due to increasing volumes at underequipped ports, lack of efficiencies and corruption. Most West African ports are facing the same challenges – increased volume into ports that
desperately require upgrades including draught, wharf length, new equipment and container yard / storage capacity. In addition, these ports are heavily dependent on rail and road feeders
from land-locked countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. This transportation network needs to be upgraded to accommodate any increase in volume from the ports.

Some ports are making progress. The port of Dakar in Senegal implemented a berthing window system for optimization of resource planning. At the end of 2012, the wharf at Abidjan, Ivory
Coast was increased to 740 meters. In addition, port equipment is constantly being added including mobile harbor cranes, traveling cranes and gantries. There are a lot of improvements
planned for the port of Conakry in Guinea – increasing the draught to 13 meters and the wharf to 830 meters, container terminal extension, dry storage area expansion and the addition of a
rail head.

Africa and West Africa specifically, is a very complex region of the world where due diligence and research need to be done prior to making any transportation decisions. Most traditional
high-level freight decisions involve cost, transit time, carrier and low-risk. In the case of West Africa, additional factors could involve current vessel waiting and customs processing times,
political situation and outlook plus any current freight backlogs for inland transport. Shippers that take the time to make an informed decision will mitigate some aspects of shipping to West Africa.

If you need advice or assistance shipping goods to Africa, contact Allyn at


Contributed by: Tatiana Lukacova, EMEA Logistics Account Lead

About Allyn International
Allyn International is dedicated to providing high quality, customer centric services and solutions for the global marketplace. Our core products include transportation management, logistics sourcing, freight forwarding, supply chain consulting, tax management, and global trade compliance.
Our clients range from small local businesses to Fortune 500 firms. Allyn conducts business in over fifteen different languages and has extensive experience in both developed and emerging markets. Our highly trained experts are located throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Allyn has regional headquarters in Fort Myers FL USA, Shanghai P.R. CHINA and Prague CZECH REPUBLIC.


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