Zanzibar seeks role as regional transit and logistics hub

Unguja. The Zanzibar government has outlined its plans to establish the islands as a key cargo transportation hub for neighbouring countries, with a focus on enhancing the nation’s economic growth through its port.

Dr Khalid Salum Mohammed, the Minister of Works, Communications, and Transport, announced these plans during the official handover of the Malindi Cargo Port to Africa Global Logistics (AGL) Company, tasked with the operation and management of the port.

Dr Mohammed explained that the decision to hand over the Malindi Port arose from persistent inefficiencies.

“Enhancing efficiency necessitates the installation of additional equipment, the deployment of advanced systems, and the establishment of robust supervisory management across all port operations. This compelled the government to engage in a contract with experts in port operations,” explained the minister.

The minister acknowledged that while the initial phase might present challenges, it was essential for all port stakeholders to cooperate in addressing emerging issues.

“We have been grappling with substantial container congestion, often resulting in ships waiting for as long as 42 days to unload cargo, primarily due to multiple factors, including equipment shortages,” he noted.

The government’s overarching objective is to enhance efficiency and stimulate economic growth in Zanzibar.

Notably, the port has faced significant container congestion, resulting in ships at times waiting for up to 42 days to unload cargo due to various reasons, including equipment shortages.

Dr Mohammed emphasised that these challenges signified inefficiencies in port operations, leading to increased cargo costs and economic losses, ultimately impacting the lives of the citizens.

The cost of unloading and shipping containers was noted to be more than three times higher compared to the Dar and Mombasa ports.

Consequently, some ships were reluctant to dock in Zanzibar, fearing increased expenses.

The agreements between the government and AGL encompass five critical aspects, including the improvement of infrastructure and services, the construction of a dry port, capacity building for workers, and the procurement of necessary equipment.

Under the terms of the five-year contract, the government will receive 30 percent of the benefits, with the investor obtaining the remaining 70 percent. Mr Nicolas Escalin, the CEO of Zanzibar Multipurpose Terminal (ZMT), a subsidiary of AGL, is committed to improving infrastructure, providing training for workers, and implementing robust systems to combat criminal activities.

Philippe Labonne, AGL’s CEO, highlighted their extensive global expertise, underscoring the port’s potential to become the second-largest in East Africa. They would use the positive results as a benchmark to enhance other ports on the island, fostering Zanzibar’s economic growth.