Top 10 ports in Africa based on trade volume

Africa accounts for 2.5% of exports and 3% of imports in world merchandise trade by value.

Africa has been known to be a strategic hub for global trade and most of Africa’s imports and exports, about 90% of those are transported by sea.

The maritime logistics sector in Africa has also been responsible for the continent’s drive to become a global trade hub.

According to data from UNCTAD, Africa accounts for 2.5% of exports and 3% of imports in world merchandise trade by value by 2020.

Top 10 biggest African ports by trade volume

Here’s the list of the top 10 biggest African ports by trade volume.

1. Tanger Med (Morocco)

This port, which is located in Morocco, is Africa’s biggest port.

The Tanger Med port currently has an annual handling capacity of 9 million (TEUs), and exports about one million new vehicles and 700,000 trucks.

The capacity and trade volume in ports is measured using a TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) and one 20-foot container equals one TEU

As of 2022, the port handled 7.5 million TEU representing a 6% increase from the volume transported in 2021 and the port’s total throughput in the same period amounted to 107.8 million tonnes.

2. Port Said (Egypt)

This port is located in Egypt and has an annual handling capacity of about five million tonnes of 20-feet containers.

Before the port expansion, the port was able to handle just about 2.2 million TEUs, but this increased to 5.1 million TEU after the second phase of the expansion project.

3. Port of Durban (South Africa)

The Durban port which is the largest and busiest port terminal in South Africa has a container handling capacity of 2.9 million TEUs and capacity to handle over 600,000 shipped vehicle units.

With over 5,000 ships docking at the port every year, that generates about 60% of the country’s trade volume.

4. Lekki Deep Sea Port (Nigeria)

The US$1.5 billion Lekki Deep Sea Port in Lagos, Nigeria is the country’s first deep-water seaport and one of the biggest in West Africa.

The port handles 2.7 million, 20-foot TEU’s and can handle vessels with a capacity exceeding 18,000 TEUs.

5. Port of Ngqura (South Africa)

The port of Ngqura is the most recently established port in South Africa and also boasts of being the deepest container port in the country. It has a handling capacity of about 2 million TEUs.

Top 10 ports in Africa based on trade volume

6. Lomé (Togo)

The Port in Lome is currently ranked third in West Africa, behind Lagos and Abidjan and can handle 1.8 million TEU.

The port facilitates imports, exports from Asia and Europe and also grants access to the landlocked countries of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso and the northern areas of Nigeria.

7. Port of Abidjan (Ivory Coast)

The port located in Ivory Coast had a facelift which gulped about $80 million for the terminal expansion and was completed in 2015. This project increased the annual container capacity to 1.5m TEUs from the initial 1 million container capacity.

8. Mombasa (Kenya)

The port of Mombasa which is managed by the Kenyan government is the gateway and exit point for cargo belonging to about nine African countries.

The port has a handling capacity of 1.65 million containers but had achieved 1.32 million within the first 10 months of 2023.

9. Port of Casablanca (Morocco)

The port of Casablanca located in Morocco is one of the largest artificial ports in the world and has the capacity to handle about 1.3 million TEUs with 21.3 million tons of cargo annually.

The port can comfortably accommodate approximately 35 ships simultaneously and it also handles over 21.3 million tons of cargo each year.

10. Port of Doraleh (Djibouti)

The $590 million Doraleh Multipurpose Port in Djibouti started in 2015 and has the capacity to handle 1.6 million containers annually. It links Europe, the Far East, the Horn of Africa and the Persian Gulf. It was officially commissioned in 2019.

African ports are currently gearing for an expansion with investors eager to have a bite of the continuously growing maritime trade sector.

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