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Ports & Ships Maritime News

July 22, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

Shipping, freight, trade and transport related news of interest for Africa

 

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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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First View – MSC JEMIMA

 

The container ship MSC JEMIMA (30,971-gt, built 1994) arrives at Lyttelton harbour in this December 2008 view. Picture by Alan Calvert

 

News continues below...

Mozambique could be exporting 110 million tonnes of coal by 2020

Maputo, 21 July – Mozambique’s annual coal production may total 110 million tons by 2020 and thus the country needs to solve its logistics problems, the president of the Mozambican Association for Mineral Coal Development said Tuesday in Maputo.

Casimiro Francisco, who was speaking at an international conference on Mozambique's coal, in the capital Maputo, said that the country may even reach production of 160 million tons of coal per year, as compared to a current estimated capacity of 55 million tons.

Saying that Mozambique had estimated coal reserves of 23 billion tons, Francisco called attention to the problem of a lack of a qualified work force and, fundamentally, to logistical problems, in particular how to transport the coal from where it is mined to the ports for export.

The Mozambican government has considered the possibility of expanding capacity at the port of Beira in Sofala province in central Mozambique, as well as transporting coal along the Zambezi river, in Tete province, a possibility that is being studied by Australian company Riversdale Mining, which is responsible for the Benga coal project in that province.

Mozambique is considered potentially to have one of the largest coal reserves in the world. There are several coal basins that have been identified in different areas of the country, in the provinces of Tete, Niassa, Cabo Delgado and Manica, some of which are currently being assessed through surveying work as part of over 100 mining licences granted to several individuals and companies.

In the Moatize coal basin, the best-known of all the coal basins in the country, several geological surveys were carried out last year and reserves are currently estimated at several billion tons.

In 2007 and 2009 two mining contracts were signed with Vale Moçambique and Riversdale Mining for Moatize and Benga respectively, which together account for a potential yearly production of around 20 million tons of coal, with exports expected to begin in July, 2011. - macauhub

 

News continues below…

That was the week that was

 

That was the week that was....

Undoubtedly the story occupying the boldest maritime headlines this past week concerned the tragic death under unresolved circumstances of a 19-year old female cadet from Transnet National Ports Authority, who disappeared overboard from a Safmarine container ship off the coast of Croatia. Initial details were at best brief, advising that a female cadet had fallen overboard, her body recovered and the matter was under investigation. The first suggestion that this was not a straightforward case of ‘person overboard’ came with the news that a senior Safmarine director had flown out to meet the ship at the next port of call and would be conducting his own enquiries.

Then the Sunday Times broke with its investigation into what happened, revealing a disturbing list of allegations of sexual and authoritorial abuse involving cadets at sea. Safmarine has since taken issue with aspects of the Sunday Times report, calling the case an ‘isolated matter’ and pointing out that Safmarine is not the only training provider involved with taking cadets to sea. Safmarine’s response can be read in full HERE.

Others have taken up the pen, giving examples of the caring attitude of ships officers towards young cadets in their charge and denying any knowledge of abuse such as claimed in the Sunday Times article. Raising the tempo now comes the voice of the trade union SATAWU, which has not unexpectedly raised a number of related issues including that of flags of convenience and pointing to South Africa’s lack of a ships registry. The union rightly points out that there are now six different authorities and institutions involved in the Safmarine Kariba investigation and wonders whether a successful conclusion is possible under the circumstances. But other issues need also to be opened for scrutiny or debate, including Transnet’s drive to redress what it sees as an imbalance of gender by placing as many women in what have traditionally been regarded as male only occupations within the marine service. According to SATAWU 100 of the 130 Transnet cadets currently under training are female. Then we had the strange sight of the head of SAMSA, which is involved in the cadetship programme, saying on national television that he would not send his daughter to sea under present circumstances. This sad story is one that should not be allowed to be easily disposed of or swept away. The memory of Akhona Geveza deserves better. In other news, Mozambique’s CFM will certainly be attracting the attention of environmentalists after announcing a Memorandum of Understanding with Botswana to build a deepwater coal port at Techobanine Point south of Maputo. This is in the midst of pristine marine conservancy country and is not far from a famed elephant reserve, and the current developers can expect as hot a reception as did the original planners. The new plan calls for a dedicated railway from Botswana via Zimbabwe, thus avoiding South Africa and Transnet Freight Rail completely. We wonder why!

In South Africa the Department of Transport appears set on pushing ahead with proposals for a high speed railway linking Durban with Gauteng, under the conviction that all that is needed to solve slow deliveries is a fast train. While this may work with human passengers, it continues to ignore the long-standing problem of non-delivery of goods and cargo at either end, which is the real reason why rail as a mover of freight is unable to compete with road transport.

Complaints are still being logged of delays at the Durban Container Terminal, where truckers say they face an average turnaround time of between three and five hours. Some even experience greater delays. And while shipping lines have begun removing surcharges that were imposed during the Transnet strike, delays in berthing also remains something of a problem for vessels without berthing slots.

Further south Transnet Port Terminals has been congratulating itself over an increase in traffic at the port of Ngqura. Ports & Ships has been unable to see this reflected on Transnet’s own port statistics but even if the claims are correct, receiving seven ships a week is hardly worth getting excited about. Particularly when everyone knows that those ships would have called at Port Elizabeth or one of the other local ports anyway. The June port statistics for Ngqura and other ports can be read HERE.

Further afield, the fire on board the 7,200-TEU Maersk container ship CHARLOTTE MAERSK has finally been extinguished, or perhaps has burned itself out. This raises again the matter of shipping lines and port terminal operators being in ignorance of what really is in those steel boxes, just as they are about the containers true loaded weight.

We learned also that South Africa’s Unicorn Shipping has bought another ship, one costing a cool USD 34 million for a 40,000-dwt products tanker which was acquired from South Korea’s Shina Shipbuilding. This shipyard has already built several other ships for the Durban company. We look forward to confirmation and details in due course.

...and that was just some of the news from the week that was.

 

News continues below...

DHL Global Forwarding sharpens its focus on Africa

More emphasis on industry expertise in African operations

DHL has announced that its Global Forwarding division will be investing further in the African region to bolster its established position in Sub- Saharan Africa.

The company also confirmed that Sub-Saharan Africa has been integrated into one region with South Asia Pacific under leadership of Amadou Diallo, with the head office in Singapore. Diallo, the CEO of DHL-GF - Africa & South Asia Pacific, was born in Senegal, and is a member of the DHL Global Forwarding Freight Executive Board.

DHL says it intends to leverage the expertise built in Singapore in sectors such as Oil and Energy, Life Science, Automotive, Technology and Aid and Relief logistics to strengthen its operations in Africa. Having opened dedicated operations in all-important African economies over the last few years, it has committed to further invest and grow its human resources, finance and sales and marketing teams to support further growth in the region.

“DHL Global Forwarding’s plans in Africa underpin the potential we see in the continent, said Hermann Ude, CEO of DHL Global Forwarding. “The triangle of trade between Africa, the Middle East and Asia will shape the future of global trade and our investments in people and processes will ensure businesses have access to world-class logistics operations across Africa”.

Mineral and resource rich Africa has witnessed swift economic growth as trade with the Asia Pacific region and around the world continues to grow.

“The economic emergence of Sub-Saharan Africa presents significant opportunities, especially in the energy and mining industries,” said Diallo. He said that eleven African nations now count as the top 10 sources of mineral exports while the African continent will account for 13 percent of global oil production by 2015.

“With a strong, established presence in all key sourcing territories, DHL Global Forwarding is well-positioned to support the rapid expansion of international and local businesses in this emerging geography.”

According to The African Economic Outlook Report for Q1 2010, Africa’s commodity export sector will drive its growth in the near term. To this end, governments in Africa are investing in infrastructure to meet the continent’s long term development needs. DHL Global Forwarding’s Industrial Projects team – which provides project logistics execution services to the energy, mining and infrastructure sectors - already partners some of the continent’s biggest turnkey developers.

 

News continues below…

Cement tops Angolan imports

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Luanda, Angola – The list of the 100 products most imported by Angola in 2009 was topped by cement, which accounted for 20.94 percent of all the country’s imports, according to figures from the National Freight Council (CNC) cited by weekly newspaper Semanário Angolense.

After cement, of which 10.5 million tons were imported, granite and other stone for construction were the next products on the list (2.46 percent), with ivory and other animal products for carving (2.25 percent), malt beer (2.19 percent) and cane and beet sugar (1.998 percent).

In 2009 around 257,800 tons of granite and other stone were imported, as were around 235,500 tons of ivory and other animal materials for carving, approximately 230,000 hectolitres of malt beer and 200,800 tons of cane and beet sugar.

The port of Luanda was the main destination of Angolan imports in 2009 and was responsible for the entry of around 7.5 million tons, which accounted for 71.43 percent of the total, followed by the ports of Lobito, Namibe and Cabinda.

The port of Luanda also tops the list of container cargo imported that year, accounting for 79.77 percent of a total 558,679 containers, 12,394 of which were refrigerated.

Nova Cimangola heads the list of that year’s 100 biggest importers, accounting for 6.64 percent of the total, followed by the Angola LNG natural gas project (5.58 percent) and the A. Distribuidora company (4.14 percent).

According to the CNC, in that year, the region that provided Angola with the largest quantity of products was Europe, with 33.38 percent of the total, followed by the United States (31.07 percent), Asia (39.16 percent), Africa (6.36 percent) and Oceania (0.02 percent).

The list of the most significant suppliers is topped by China, which provided 26.41 percent, Portugal (14.38 percent), Brazil (8.96 percent), Spain (8,16 percent) and France (5.16 percent). (source - macauhub)

 

News continues below…

tralac’s Hotseat comment – SACU’s revenue sharing formula

by Sean Woolfrey, a tralac researcher

On 15 and 16 July, the Heads of State and Government of the five Southern African Customs Union (SACU) Member States (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland) met in Pretoria to reflect on the achievements of the 100-year old customs union, and to discuss important future challenges facing the union.

A press statement released by SACU highlighted a number of the challenges that were discussed at the meeting. These included strengthening the SACU Secretariat, placing SACU at the centre of regional economic integration efforts in southern Africa, consolidating SACU integration through the implementation of the various policies contained in the 2002 SACU Agreement and the establishment of common institutions, presenting a united front in future trade negotiations with third parties, devising a roadmap for the move towards an economic community and monetary union and developing measures to promote intra-regional trade.

Potentially one of the most important outcomes of the meeting for the future of SACU, however, was the apparent decision by the Member States to agree to a review of SACU’s revenue sharing formula. This decision follows mounting discontent within South Africa (by far the largest economy in SACU) at the current arrangement, which has been criticised by various sources in the country.

South Africa’s National Treasury, for instance, is believed to be of the opinion that South Africa’s bankrolling of the smaller SACU states through customs duties collected in South Africa and added to the revenue pool, places an unnecessary fiscal strain on the country. Trade union umbrella body the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), meanwhile, has raised the question of why South Africa should be making such transfers to an absolute monarchy (Swaziland) and a country with a higher per capita GDP than South Africa (Botswana).

The current state of affairs whereby the smaller SACU states receive a disproportionately large share of SACU customs duties exists because, historically, the revenue sharing formula in SACU evolved as a means by which the smaller SACU Member States were compensated for submitting to de facto South African leadership of the customs union in terms of dictating trade policy and setting the common external tariff.

Any change to the current revenue sharing arrangement which leads to smaller transfers from South Africa to the other SACU Member States is likely to have a severe negative effect on those states, as they have come to rely heavily on these transfers as a source of government revenue. Indeed, transfers from the SACU revenue sharing pool represent around a quarter of government revenue in Botswana, over a third of government revenue in Namibia and almost two-thirds of government revenue in Lesotho and Swaziland. A sudden decrease in the values of these transfers is thus likely to plunge the smaller SACU states into fiscal crises.

While to the South African National Treasury the current system might be seen to be placing an unnecessary burden on South Africa’s finances, simply cutting the transfers may not be beneficial to the country either. Given the dominance of South Africa’s economy in the region and the dependence of the other SACU Member States on the South African economy, any measures which lead to increased poverty in its neighbouring states are likely to have consequences for South Africa itself.

On the other hand, a dependence on customs duties as a source of government revenue is not sustainable for the smaller SACU states in the long run. Furthermore, if SACU is truly to serve as the central building block for regional integration in southern Africa, then a revenue sharing formula which does not rely on one country propping up the governments of the other Member states is undoubtedly necessary.

 

News continues below…
 

A whale of a story

 
Picture by Cape Town Sailing Academy

A yachting couple in Table Bay had a lucky escape when a Southern Right whale, estimated to be between 12m and 14m in length, landed unexpectedly on their 10m yacht.

Fortunately the steel hulled yacht stood up to the sudden arrival, although the mast was damaged, and the shaken couple, both sailing instructors, were able to return to harbour safely. The whale appeared to have suffered little other than possibly some bruising.

The incident took place between Robben Island and Blouberg where the couple on board the yacht INTREPID had been watching the whale flip its tail for about 30 minutes.

Repairs to the yacht will cost an estimated R120,000.

 

Pics of the Day – GOLDEN HARMONY

 

The Indian bulk carrier GOLDEN HARMONY (29,337-dwt, built 1977) arriving in Durban harbour. Pictures by Terry Hutson

 

 

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