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Ports & Ships Maritime News

18 November 2014
Author: Terry Hutson

Bringing you shipping, freight, trade and transport related news of interest for Africa since 2002


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Hamburg Süd’s 2,800-TEU container ship SPIRIT OF SHANGHAI (34,500-dwt, built 2007) seen approaching the New Zealand South Island port of Dunedin on 25 October 2014. Picture: Alan Calvert

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A new diesel locomotive on the 900km long Moçamedes Railway in the south of Angola, running from the port of Namibe (Moçamedes until 1985) to the inland town of Menongue. All three of Angola’s railways remain isolated from each other but now Angola has plans to link several of them together.

The government of Angola plans to build a railway line to link the country’s separated railways, thus establishing a national railway network, Angola’s Transport Minister said in Lubango.

Minister Augusto Tomás, speaking at the opening of a seminar on rail transport in Angola, said that the project includes construction of logistics platforms in various locations along the route of the line.

“The government has set as a priority the doubling of the Luanda railway between the stations of Baía and Bungo (near Uige) and construction of a branch line between Baía and the new international airport in the capital, which includes four level crossings,” the minister said, quoted by daily newspaper Jornal de Angola.

Tomás also mentioned construction of the northern railway, between Luanda, Uige and Mbanza Congo, with a subsequent link to the port of Soyo and the connection between the the Benguela railway starting near the municipality of Luacano, in Moxico, and the eastern border with Zambia.

This extension provides a connection to Zambia and transportation of ore from the region of the copper mines to international markets via the ore terminal at the port of Lobito.

Tomás also announced preparation of a feasibility study “for the construction of the missing link at the end of the CFB railway, near Lobito.”

Augusto Tomás called for a study to define models of financing and construction, including an analysis of the involvement of the private sector in the construction and management of infrastructure and transport services. - macauhub

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Ghana map 3012420 IRIN

Ghanaian workers in the petroleum sector will commence strike action from today (Tuesday, 18 November in solidarity with Ghanaian workers of MODEC who were dismissed on 10 November 2014.

The solidarity strike, backed by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), will involve workers of the Petroleum Tankers Union; the West African Gas Pipeline Company limited (WAPCo), Bulk Oil Storage & Transportation Co. Ltd. (BOST), Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) among others, reports Ghana’s Daily Guide newspaper, quoting Citifmonline.com

The strike could lead to fuel shortages and has the potential of crippling the petroleum sector.

About 12 Ghanaian workers at MODEC, a private company working at Ghana’s FPSO vessel on the Jubilee oil field, withdrew their services on 11 November to demand the reinstatement of their colleagues who had been sacked.

Those who had been sacked had been protesting what they said were poor working conditions and remunerations. They claimed that MODEC paid expatriate workers better than the Ghanaian workers, whose salaries didn’t even match industry standards.

They were subsequently dismissed by MODEC after the workers refused to sign an agreement of good behaviour. MODEC had earlier described the strike as illegal claiming they were not given prior notice.

The Deputy Secretary General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Dr Yaw Baah who confirmed the latest development to Citi Business News said, “Our affiliates are saying that they are going to withdraw their services. A number of the locals are going to stop work.”

“… Remember they have more affiliates so if government doesn’t listen, MODEC doesn’t listen, those who matter don’t listen, what is going to happen is that more and more of their members are going to join [the strike] until the guys are reinstated,” he indicated.

Dr. Baah further explained that, “they think that the Minister of Employment, the Petroleum Commission, Tullow and all those guys… have not shown enough commitment” adding that “that is why we are targeting them.”

“We think Tullow should do better, the Petroleum Commission to do better, we expect the Minister of Employment, we have not heard from him, to do better, this is injustice,” he insisted.

Meanwhile, MODEC has taken its striking employees before the National Labour Commission (NLC) to compel them to rescind their decision. – Daily Guide

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FS Le Malin, French Navy support ship recently in Mozambique

France, which is already involved in a controversial deal to supply Mozambique with between 24 and 30 fishing trawlers including a number of highly sophisticated patrol boats – a deal that was concluded at the highest level of both governments - is now recommending that Mozambique buy warships to guard against piracy.

France has stressed the vulnerability of Mozambique waters particularly in the Rovuma Basin area near the border with Tanzania, which is a centre of an energy resources boom.

At a press conference recently, France’s representative in Mozambique, Ambassador Serge Segura, said there is no point in a country gathering information on illegal activities within its maritime boundaries, for example by radar, when it does not have the capacity to take action.

The ambassador was speaking on board the visiting French Naval Commando support ship LE MALIN (A616). He pointed out that piracy took place wherever there was economic activity.

At the request of Mozambique, South Africa has positioned a naval presence which is operating out of Mozambique’s northern port of Pemba, together with reconnaissance aircraft of the South African Air Force.

There have been very few incidents of piracy or suspected pirate activity in the region.


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Abdullah Elmie, HSE manager at DCD Marine

DCD Marine Cape Town, a provider of turnkey ship repair solutions to the maritime and oil and gas sectors and part of the DCD Marine Cluster, says that benchmarking its systems against the best in the world has been pivotal to success in the market.

International accreditation has cemented the company’s reputation for sound safety and quality compliance, as well as industry-specific skills sets.

The company says it has worked tirelessly to ensure compliance with the highest industry standards. DCD Marine Cape Town is ISO 9001:2008, ISO 14 001:2005 and ISO 18 001:2007 certified for its quality management and environmental systems, and has recently received the ISO 3834-2:2005 certification for welding. Certification was performed by Lloyd’s Register LRQA.

“ISO 3834 is a supplementary certification to ISO 9001,” explains Abdullah Elmie, Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) manager at DCD Marine Cape Town. “We were audited by an independent international welding engineer who scrutinised our welding processes, including our welding management and control systems.”

He continues: “Welding is probably the most mission-critical activity when it comes to ship repair in the oil and gas sector. The different processes involved make it a complex skill, demanding high levels of accuracy and attention to detail.”

DCD Marine Cape Town has a strong focus on training, specifically in specialist welding techniques, and has its own MERSETA-accredited in-house welding assessment centre.

“While training and up-skilling are an important part of our strategy, it is equally important for us to be able to benchmark our standards against local and international accreditation bodies that have wide experience in our industry,” says Elmie. “Now, through the ISO 3834 certification, we are able to clearly demonstrate to our local and global shipping clients that our welding processes are fully compliant with an internationally-recognised certification system.”

Safety and quality practices, supported by strong leadership and established systems, are embedded in all processes at DCD Marine Cape Town, according to Elmie. He explains how the company maintains optimum levels of safety and quality:

“We conduct regular reviews of all our processes to ensure that we continually improve the way we operate and provide value to our clients. We continuously measure our own performance to prevent any negative trends from developing. Regular internal and third party audits are also done that ensure we are compliant with the best practices which have been implemented during development stages.”

Given the pivotal importance of welding in ship repair operations, the company ensures that it sets specific standards which are measurable.

“Each welder is coded for a specific welding procedure, and these codes are assessed by a third party to ensure independence. The same methodology is applied across the board: each and every welder must have a valid code for the particular process that he or she is practicing on site,” Elmie says.

“In the highly competitive shipping industry, DCD Marine Cape Town and indeed the entire DCD Marine Cluster, strives for continual improvement in every aspect of the project work we do.

By adhering to the strictest international standards, and maintaining a pool of high-level technical skills, we can assure our clients of a world-class service. Our latest ISO accreditation from Lloyd’s Register LRQA for welding excellence is one way in which we can achieve that,” he concludes.

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Strong transportation infrastructure can be a boost for jobs, economic development and quality of life. But the condition of roads, railways and ports has long been slowing local business and foreign investment in Africa.

On 28-30 October, the first Ministerial and Policy Conference on Sustainable Transport took place at UN Environment Program headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, to explore integrating sustainable policies into Africa’s needed transportation development. And much of that integration revolves around energy, reports AFKInsider.

According to the International Energy Agency’s Africa Energy Outlook report released on 13 October: “As urban areas grow significantly in size in sub-Saharan Africa, urban development policies can play an important role in guiding users of transport services towards private or public forms of transportation, and therefore influence future transport energy demand.”

But whether or not Africa’s railways, ports and road infrastructure development will be “green,” it will be expensive – estimated to need US$100 billion annually for improvements. But according to the African Development Bank, “Africa invests only 4 percent of its collective GDP in infrastructure, compared with China’s 14 percent.”

“These numbers vary from who you’re quoting and it’s different if you’re looking at sub-Saharan Africa or the whole continent,” Vivienne Sequeira, the Corporate Council on Africa’s Director of Infrastructure told AFKInsider. “So it has to be qualified.”

The Corporate Council’s 6th US-Africa Infrastructure Conference on 7-8 October in Washington, DC, had the theme “Building Resilient Cities” and highlighted how Africa is coping with rapid urbanisation – including intermodal transportation.

“The infrastructure in cities is where the most immediate infrastructure deals can be made, I think, and that’s why we put the emphasis on that,” Stephen Hayes, president and CEO of the Corporate Council on Africa told AFKInsider.

“What we tried to do is give US companies and others there a greater range of potential financing and where it might come from beyond US banks and the Ex-Im Bank. And what’s also been very helpful is that the Africa Development Bank has joined Corporate Council on Africa, and that also sure helps US companies as well,” Hayes added.

The African Development Bank launched the Africa50 Fund earlier this year with the long-term strategic aim of investing $10 billion and facilitating total project investments of $100 billion by enticing investors.

There is a lot of work to be done. The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2014 – 2015 of 144 world economies ranked sub-Saharan Africa’s infrastructure. While the report found transport infrastructure in Mauritius (ranking 42nd), South Africa (32nd) and Namibia (52nd) “good by regional standards,” other countries don’t fare so well.

According to the report: Tanzania (130th) has “poor roads and ports;” Mozambique (128th) needs to make “critical investments across all modes of infrastructure;” and in Angola (139th) “the continent’s second biggest oil exporter — infrastructure is one of the least developed globally.”

Transporting costs
The African Development Bank estimates that costs for transporting goods are 63 percent higher in Africa than in developed countries, hampering international and local business.

“The biggest issue is the talk of transporting goods on the continent,” Corporate Council’s Sequeira told AFKInsider, noting there was some discussion at the Council’s conference about long-haul roadways across the continent.

Mwangi Kimenyi, senior fellow and director of the Brookings Institute Africa Growth Initiative says if you look at the new projects, such as the new railway from Mombasa to the interior of Kenya, they are “trying to open up the interior.”

“The minister of Uganda discussed the new road that’s being built between Kisangani in the DRC all the way to the coast,” says Sequeira. “So, that one is really helping intra-Africa transportation.”

Another future project discussed was building a road from Cape Town to Cairo, which is part of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development’s (NEPAD) ambitions.

“They are considered regional projects. There are several roads now linking east African countries that are what we call the ‘East African Community Roads’ – again, trying to open-up the region for trade and movement of people in the area,” Kimenyi told AFKInsider.

One way to cut costs and function in a more sustainable way is through intermodal transportation – the coordinated movement of goods through the interconnection of ports, railways and trucking.

“Several of the panelists across the conference talked about the long time it takes to get goods through ports,” Sequeira told AFKInsider. “Most of the ports are at full capacity.”

The massive Lamu Port and New Transport Corridor Development to Southern Sudan and Ethiopia (LAPSSET) demonstrates Kenya’s push to become East Africa’s transit hub by linking landlocked countries to the port for exporting the region’s oil and gas overseas. With LAPSSET, Kenya would ultimately become the global gateway for 11 East African countries.

With Turkish funding, the Somali government is rebuilding the country’s airport and seaport. The international airport in Mogadishu is expected to be completed in 2015 and Somali authorities handed over management of the Port of Mogadishu to the Turkish firm Al Bayrak Company for upgrading to international standards.

Nigeria also has shipyard infrastructural opportunities for private investors in the on-going development of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency’s dockyard in Okerenkoko, where ground breaking took place early this year.

Meanwhile, Tanzania’s government announced on 27 October that construction of a Chinese-funded $10 billion port at Bagamoyo will start in July 2015 north of Dar es Salaam.

China’s train factor
It is estimated that 30 percent of all new projects in Africa stem from Chinese investment to ensure the free flow of the mineral resources it needs from the continent. And that flow requires railroad infrastructure. The Brookings Institute notes that in the past few years, “Chinese railway construction companies have achieved great business successes in Africa.”

Those projects include China Railway 20 Bureau Group Corporation’s (CR20) $1.83 billion reconstruction of the Benguela railway connecting Angola, Zambia and southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo completed in August 2014. Chinese companies are also building the $4 billion electric railway connecting Addis Ababa and Djibouti, the $5.6 billion Chad railway network and the $13 billion coastal railway project with Nigeria.

Construction of the $3.8 billion deal — signed by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Kenyan president Kenyatta earlier this year — for a railway linking Kenya’s port city of Mombasa with Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan is to begin in October 2014.

Brookings Institute notes that the key to such massive procurement deals with the Chinese has been the adoption of “Chinese standards” in the railways.

“The different track gauge standards in Africa have been a significant obstacle in establishing the regional railway network. As a result, Chinese companies have managed to convince African governments of the need to accept Chinese technical standards in rail infrastructure,” notes the Brookings report.

Roads vs. rail?
Though rail can carry a lot of freight and is critical to port activity, roads remain critical to Africa’s infrastructure development.

“As economies grow people become more wealthy and development is taking place and infrastructure is being developed, so there will be more cars on the street and that’s not good for the environment,” Alexander Ochs, director of the Climate and Energy Program at Worldwatch Institute told AFKInsider.

“So, doing that more sustainably requires solutions, and some of those solutions are there but it’s going to be a really difficult challenge to make sure that they are seen as the more attractive option in comparison to just cars that burn fossil fuel,” Ochs told AFKInsider.

But Ochs says it isn’t necessarily road versus rail. “It’s about how you use the technology,” he said.

The Maputo, Mozambique, Municipal Council announced on 2 October that it was launching dedicated bus lanes in some major thoroughfares for a fleet of buses to begin operating in January 2017. Brazilian company Ordebrecht conducted geotechnical studies for the $225 million project, of which $180 million is coming from Brazil.

“I think buses have a role to play if you really look at the environmental footprint of buses versus trains,” says Ochs, who notes “sometimes buses are the more greener and cleaner version of trains.

“As a general rule, you can say if buses are full, then they are usually more sustainable than trains – specifically if you have to build new tracks and so on,” Ochs said.

Tackling transport challenges
Many believe that Africa’s growth and urbanisation presents an opportunity for transportation infrastructure to “leapfrog” to more sustainable technologies.

The goal of the 28-30 October Conference on Sustainable Transport in Nairobi was to “integrate sustainable transport into the region’s development and planning processes and increase the amount of funding going to sustainable transport programs in Africa.”

But reaching a “green economy” with transportation is much more difficult than achieving set goals in the electric power sector – such as 20 percent renewable energy by so-and-so date.

“The transport sector remains almost entirely reliant on oil products, with few policies in place to promote the use of alternative fuels, such as biofuels” notes the International Energy Agency African Energy Outlook report.

“Generally, transportation is a big area where most of us really are worried that countries that are extremely ambitious will really reach their goals simply because it’s a lot more difficult to get cars – that are a long-term investments for individuals – off the street and replace them with more sustainable ways of transportation,” says Ochs.

A more positive dynamic is vehicle fuel efficiency. According to the International Energy Agency’s African Energy Outlook report, sub-Saharan Africa relies heavily on imports of second hand vehicles from Japan and Europe, which both have comprehensive fuel economy standards in place.

“To a degree, these standards are progressively imported helping to improve the region’s average efficiency,” notes the report, which concludes:

“Interest in building vehicle manufacturing or assembly plants in Africa is also expected to be a factor in pushing policymakers to consider fuel-economy policies more seriously or, where they exist, to impose them more stringently.” – AFKInsider


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Pacific Gannet Nov 2014 Swire Pacific image 470

PACIFIC GANNET aad noorland 10 (3) 470

The Singapore-flagged offshore service tug PACIFIC GANNET (4,078-dwt, built 2014) which was launched into service earlier this year, called at Cape Town this past week. The large and powerful 6,437 brake horsepower vessel has an overall length of 84.65 metres and a beam of 18m and has berths on board for 48 personnel. Apart from the usual gym, Pacific Gannet, owned by Swire Pacific, even boasts a small hospital. Pictures: Swire Pacific (upper) and Aad Noorland (lower).

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