Written by World Bank
Developed by The World Bank
26 September 2019
Ports have always played an essential role in this highly trade-dependent region. While there are still wide disparities in terms of throughput volumes and capacity, traffic has been growing rapidly in most countries over the last decade. Overall, total throughput in West Africa grew from around 105 million tons in 2006 to 165 million tons in 2012. Likewise, containerized traffic remains limited in West Africa compared to other regions but has grown faster than in any other region in the world over the last five years. The combined throughput of container terminals in the region reached almost 5 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in 2013, twice as much as a decade ago, and is expected to keep growing fast. The future throughput of West African ports comprises the demand for containerized trade generated by coastal and landlocked countries, and additional port movements generated by transshipment in regional hub(s). Given the regional dynamics of ports in West Africa, there is also a good case for more cooperation between West African countries on port reform, competition and regulation. Strengthening the capacity and mandate of regional institutions such as the ECOWAS Commission on these issues would complement regulatory efforts at the country level and provide a forum to analyze regional issues related to inter-port competition and private sector participation in port management.
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