Ports in Angola

Angola’s race for economic diversification and increased local content is indexed to its logistical prowess, and its ports are taking the load.

Photo by Pedro Domingos on Unsplash

Angola has emerged successfully from close to three decades of civil war that destroyed much of its infrastructure. Today, the government intends for its economic renaissance to be more equitable than the oil boom that barely registered with the average citizen.

As we have seen throughout this book, the state’s adopted path is one of economic diversity, contingent upon increased localized content in production, both agricultural and industrial.

What’s more, aside from OPEC, Angola is also a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) mandated to champion socio-economic relations among member states.

Unsurprisingly then, Angola’s National Development Plan, underlines infrastructure development, notably through the revamping of its seaports. The importance of this has of course come into sharp relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As in any country, connectivity is fundamental to attracting foreign investment and the know-how it brings to develop the industrial matrix.

Western Angola boasts a 1,600km coastline on the South Atlantic, and its port network, comprising five major facilities, will allow the country to best exploit its wealth of exotic earth minerals that the developed economies crave. This in addition to flourishing agricultural and fishery initiatives.

A modern, digitalized logistic infrastructure promises to secure Angola’s essential goods requirements.

Small wonder then that the largest port facility, the port of Luanda has received investment of USD600 million for revitalization. Notable among international interest is the UAE, which has committed to developing the Barra de Donde region of Luanda to feature a stockyard for oil, gas, and lubricants.

The Port Network

Angola’s Atlantic coast features the ports of Luanda, Lobito, Cabinda, Soyo and Namibe, and space here permits but a brief glance at their sheer, overall significance. The Port of Luanda is among the nation’s largest deep-water seaports, serving the principle commercial center.

The port—accounting for 70% of imports and 80% of non-petroleum foreign trade—predominantly handles automobile components, beverages, and cash crops including coffee, cotton, and oilseed, readily accommodating bulk container vessels.

Its administrator is state-owned Empresa Portuária de Luanda, while international giant DP World holds a 20-year operations concession having sunk USD190 million into turning the terminal into a regional maritime hub.

The Port of Lobito in the Benguela province is the second largest in the country, handling an annual 2 million tons of cargo. It is the largest deep-water seaport of Central Angola. With development funded heavily by Chinese investment, Lobito port is strategically linked to the Benguela railway network enabling mineral transportation from the neighboring countries of Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia. TBY spoke with Porto of Lobito CEO Celso Rosas.

“That railway is considered the fastest and most accessible means of transportation for diverse products to and from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, and Botswana,” he notes

The line is earmarked for extension into neighboring Zambia for mineral shipments as a gateway to southern Africa. As a catalyst of national development, Rosa adds, “Our port brings huge advantages for our country as a link between maritime, rail, and road transport systems [forming part of] the Lobito Corridor.”

In brief, “Port of Lobito will of necessity be a reference point for the future.” Local content is a key consideration, too, whereby, “Our board of directors […] determined that we prioritize the “human factor,” in other words, prioritize our workers. We are investing heavily in training, and are in the process of transformation into a “school company.”

The Port of Namibe, located close to Namibia, caters to Angola’s southern economic zone and serves as a transit port to supply goods inland to the far southeast of Angola. By cargo movement it ranks as the nation’s third-largest port, benefiting from connection to southern Angola through the Moçâmedes railway line. Cabinda Port in northwest Angola essentially caters to the oil and gas sector that has overwhelming significance in the province.

The 2018-2022 National Development Plan foretold additional ports, including the deep-water port of Caio in Cabinda, a container terminal, Barra do Dande in Bengo, envisaged taking the strain of the Port of Luanda, long since at operating at saturation—where daily discharge rates reach 7,000 metric tons directly from and to the trucks—and the port in Porto Amboim, leveraging public-private partnerships.

With a price tag of USD1.5 billion, and using the PPP model in partnerships with Angola’s national oil company, Sonangol, Barro do Dande features 29 storage tanks, terminals for solid and liquid bulk materials, and a container terminal, multi-use terminal, and petroleum support zone. To those may be added an 18.25km quay wall, a 10.5sqkm embarkment area and 4.68sqkm logistics support zone.

Given the challenges facing the government’s mammoth modernization and diversification plans, where logistics are concerned it’s a case of all ports in a storm.