South Africa - Country Commercial Guide
Ports and Marine

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2020-10-01

Overview

The South African Government views the country’s ports and terminals as key engines for economic growth.  South Africa is situated on one of the busiest international sea routes‚ critical to international maritime transportation‚ and its geographical location presents a huge opportunity for investing in a diversified maritime market. Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) which is one of five operating divisions of SOE Transnet is responsible for the safe, effective and economically efficient functioning of the national ports system, encompassing eight commercial seaports, which it manages in a ‘landlord’ capacity. 

Opportunities

The first area of focus for Operation Phakisa, which was announced in June 2014, relates to maritime development of the ‘Blue Economy.’ There are four priority sectors for the Blue Economy: marine transport and manufacturing activities (coastal shipping, trans-shipment, boat building); offshore oil and gas exploration; aquaculture and marine protection services; and ocean governance. The South African Government has consulted with 180 stakeholders in the four priority areas to develop detailed plans of action for each sector. Operation Phakisa complements U.S. interests in protecting fragile ocean ecosystems and generating economic development through the utilization of South Africa’s abundant maritime resources. It is estimated that Operation Phakisa could create over a million sustainable jobs.

The Ports Authority has several additional development projects planned for the next five to ten years. One such project will deepen the entrance channel of Durban harbor and widen it from 122 to 230 meters. The Ports Authority also plans to work with the municipality to build a R17 million bridge into the port. A dedicated car terminal for automobile transit will be created.

Port of Durban is the main container port on the South African coastline. While handling approximately 60% of South Africa’s container traffic, the port serves KwaZulu-Natal, the Gauteng region and a large portion of the Southern African hinterland. Together with containers the port also accommodates dry bulk, liquid bulk, automotive and break bulk. Other present port activities, include facilities for local fishing industry, ship repair industries, visiting cruise liner vessels and recreational boating. The Port of Durban is bounded by the city centre to the north, residential areas to the west and east, and industrial land to the south. Thus, the development of the Durban Dig-Out Port (DDOP) at the old airport site (11 km south of the existing port) is vital for future expansion. Improvements to the throughput capacity of the existing precincts in the Port of Durban have been a priority in recent years. These projects include deepening and lengthening of the north quay at Berths 203 to 205, infilling at Pier 1, Maydon Wharf and Island View berth reconstruction and berth deepening and construction of a new passenger terminal. Long-term expansion is planned at the Durban Dig-Out Port.

In 2019 the container berth capacity dropped from 3.3 million TEUs (Twenty Foot Equivalent Units) per annum to 2.9 million TEUs per annum due to the berth deepening project at DCT. During this time the container demand will exceed container terminal capacity. The shortfall in container capacity will be accommodated by diverting the containers to the Port of Ngqura. By 2023, however, the container berth capacity is anticipated to increase to 3.8 million TEUs per annum. This increase is based on the expected completion of the berth deepening (additional 0.4MTEU/a) and lengthening (additional 0.5 MTEU/a) project.

The Port of Richards Bay reached the milestone in handling over 100 million tons of cargo during 2017/18. This truly positions the Port of Richards Bay as the bulk port of choice in the Southern African region. Furthermore the signing of the MOU between uMhlathuze Municipality, Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone (RBIDZ) and Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) has ensured that the port is positioned to be a natural location for bulk handling capabilities, although foreign demand for bituminous coal is decreasing. With the two phases of RBIDZ that are juxtaposed with first class industry while the deep-water Port of Richards Bay provides substantial volume for beneficiation opportunities for investments. With strategic projects such as Richards bay Expansion Project, additional liquid bulk terminals and the upgrading of roads and services will see the port take advantage of the N2 Business corridor links to provinces such as Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo and further into East Africa.

Cape Town is South Africa’s second biggest seaport and its strategic location ideally positions it as a hub terminal for cargo to South America and the Far East. West/East Africa cargo has grown substantially, making the Cape Town Container Terminal the terminal of choice for trans-shipment cargo.  The port exports fruit, perishable and frozen products, and fish and has a cruise ship terminal.  The terminal handles 3,161 vessels per year for a gross tonnage of 44,501,297. Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) has selected the V&A Waterfront as the preferred bidder for the development of a cruise terminal at the Port of Cape Town. The V&A Waterfront would invest about R179-million to finance, design and develop the terminal, which would remain at E berth, Duncan Dock, in the Port of Cape Town. All international cruise liner vessels are required to dock at the Port of Cape Town as the first port of call in line with a directive from the Home Affairs Minister under the Immigration Act 13 of 2011.The upgraded Cape Town cruise terminal facility to be developed by V&A Waterfront will be a new gateway for tourism. About R1.2-billion on capacity-creating projects in Richards Bay will be set aside as Transnet pursues re-engineering of the port to create additional capacity for bulk products at the terminal.

The Port Elizabeth Container Terminal is one of the three specialized container-handling facilities along the South African coastline.  Located in the center of South Africa’s southern coastline, Port Elizabeth serves the immediate area of the Eastern Cape, where its main business focuses on the needs and requirements of the motor vehicle and components industry as well as various agricultural products. The terminal offers value-added services in the form of storage, packing and unpacking of containers and logistics management. With the development of the Port of Ngqura, which is South Africa’s newest port and located within the Coega IDZ, this port is transitioning from being the primary central port to a premier automotive hub port and cruise terminal, primarily serving smaller or partially laden container ships.  The port is exploring the untapped market of boat building in niche market of tug boats and navy vessels. The Port of Port Elizabeth handled most of the cargo in the region. With the Port of Ngqura becoming operational, the role of Port Elizabeth is changing from being the primary central port to one providing complementary services to Ngqura. In the short term, rationalization of activities will see manganese exports and liquid bulk imports moved to the Port of Ngqura, while the Port of Port Elizabeth and East London will continue to handle significant volumes of containers and vehicles.

Sub-Sector Best Prospects

Transportation Equipment and Infrastructure:

  • Business Model Analysis
  • Port Mobile Cranes
  • Ship Repair
  • Cargo Handling Services
  • Weigh bridges
  • Quayside Systems
  • Upgrading of Existing Port Equipment

Web Resources

Transnet National Ports Authority

http://www.transnetnationalportsauthority.net/

Richard Bay Coal Terminal Consortium

http://www.rbct.co.za

For More Information, the U.S. Commercial Service, South Africa, can be contacted via email: 

Sanjay.Harryparshad@trade.gov

Phone: +27 (0)31 305 7600 X3150, or visit our Website at:

http://export.gov/southafrica/index.asp