Dar es Salaam port overtake Mombasa in new World Bank ranking

Dar Port

What you need to know:

  • In recent years Dar port has staged stiff competition, threatening to pull most of the ships plying the East African waters into its harbour.

Dar es Salaam, Djibouti and Berbera ports have toppled Mombasa in the World Bank’s latest ranking on the most efficient ports, highlighting the competition fears that Kenya has had over Tanzania becoming a preferred route for shippers.

The third edition of the global Container Port Performance Index (CPPI), has ranked the Dar es Salaam port at position 312 in 2022 out of the 348 ports worldwide that were assessed.

Mombasa port is positioned at 326, behind the regional peers in eastern Africa.

Kenya’s main port recorded a steep decline from the 2021 report where it was placed at position 296 by the World Bank.

The ports are ranked based on their efficiency, measured by the elapsed time between when a ship reaches a port to its departure from the berth having completed its cargo exchange.

The World Bank notes that efficient operation of the port is key to the development of trade in the region, pointing out that there has been significant improvement in business since 2020 when the marine industry recorded reduced activities in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Improving port efficiency is essential for unlocking Africa’s growth and development,” said Martin Humphreys, lead transport economist at the World Bank.

“Africa’s ports are vital gateways for trade and commerce, and efficient operation contributes to food security. Their efficient operation is a key determinant in whether Africa achieves its economic potential.”

This comes even as Tanzania’s Port of Dar es Salaam has in recent years staged stiff competition, threatening to pull most of the ships plying the East African waters into their harbour.

In the ranking, the Tanzanian port recorded improvement from the 2021 ranking to stand at position 312 from 361 previously.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows the volume of cargo handled by Mombasa port dipped for the first time in five years in 2022, with players pointing to rising competition from Dar es Salaam.

Total cargo throughput at the port shrunk to 33.74 million tonnes last year from 34.76 million tonnes the year before, according to KNBS.

The 2.93 percent year-on-year drop pushed the volumes to the lowest levels since 2018 when it stood at 30.92 million tonnes.

Among the report highlights are China’s Yangshan Port, which topped the ranking despite periods of heavy disruption caused by typhoons and various other factors in 2022.

The Port of Berbera (144), Djibouti (26), Port Elizabeth (291), Durban (341) and Cape Town (344) are among the ports that were assessed in sub-Saharan Africa.