WHILE Africa's container trade may be petty by world standard, it is approaching eight million TEU and bigger than Australia's, and growing much faster.
And there is so much more scope for growth in the 23 countries with their 437 million people.
Rotterdam-based Dynamar has recently issued its latest report in its Container Markets and Trades series: East & Southern Africa (worldwide) Container Trades.
The report reminds one of a few salient facts about Africa:
East and southern Africa's container volumes have grown by nine per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) since 2010.
China's exports to East Africa is expected to increase 91 per cent by 2020.
The area is experiencing strong growth, rising incomes, falling poverty and economic diversification.
Transit cargo from Mombasa is growing at an average of seven per cent; current share is 30 per cent.
Inland transportation costs are reaching 77 per cent of export value.
Sub Saharan Africa's largest port is Durban, South Africa.
The three main African regions covered in the report consist of 23 countries: East Africa: coastal Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania, plus seven landlocked countries.
Indian Ocean: Madagascar, Mauritius, La Reunion (France) Mozambique, South Africa and Namibia, plus four non-coastal nations.
"Imagine that the east and southern Africa container trades would catch up, relatively, and in one year's time, with that of the US with its population of 323 million," said Dynamar managing editor Dirk Visser.
"In that case, the relevant African TEU volume would grow to 42 million TEU, up 1,200 per cent from the 3.2 million TEU of 2014.
"A period of 25 years may be more realistic. This would then translate into a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 11 per cent," he said.
Contender for various inland destinations, Dar-es-Salaam has longstanding plans and a long shortlist of no less than ten companies to build a new, 600,000-TEU container terminal.
This will double present capacity. In addition, some multipurpose berths will be strengthened to handle containers.
In addition to their main ports, both countries are ushering in their smaller secondary outlets. The main ones are Lamu in Kenya and Bagamoyo and Mwambani in Tanzania.
These have in common that they are to become the oceanic starting points of transport corridors of sometimes megalomaniac, multi-billion dimensions as they are to include port facilities, roads, railways, pipelines and warehouses.
Bagamoyo, opposite Zanzibar and 75-kilometre north of Dar-es-Salaam, was the capital of former German East Africa.
Mr Visser said that China Merchants (Holding) International and Oman have jointly funded $11 billion to build a 20 million TEU capacity container port there.
However, it is still not excluded that preference will be given to the southern port of Mtwara, near the border with Mozambique.
Various of the (all private) ports in Mozambique, including Beira, Maputo and Nacala, are competing for connections with landlocked Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi and Johannesburg.
Rich in natural resources and a potential supplier of LNG, among others, Mozambique's economy is doing well.
South Africa is the largest of the only three littoral southern African countries and the single African G-20 member. Durban, its main outlet, is the largest of the only four Sub-Saharan African millionaires by container throughput.
The building of a new, 9.6 million TEU capacity port at the site of the former airport has been continuously delayed but is now to start by 2021. Like all South African ports, it will be operated by parastatal Transnet.
Source : HKSG.