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Port of Antwerp and Port of Douala to collaborate over next five years

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The ports of Antwerp, Belgium and Douala, Cameroon have announced they are to collaborate closely with each other over the following five years. The collaboration agreement was signed yesterday during a visit by Antwerp port representatives to the Port of Douala.

Douala Port Authority is hoping that the agreement will enhance the efficiency of its port operations, while for Antwerp it represents a way to further strengthen its position as market leader in West and Central Africa, following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Port of Dakar, Senegal last week.

The MoU with the Port of Douala was signed by Cyrus Ngo’o, CEO of the Port Autonome de Douala, and Marc Van Peel and Kristof Waterschoot, respectively Chairman and Managing Director of APEC and PAI, the two subsidiaries of Antwerp Port Authority responsible for training maritime professionals and for consultancy tasks in foreign ports.

Van Peel said: "With its exports of freight items such as timber and cacao, Cameroon has huge potential in Antwerp, which already has players active in these segments. Moreover the port has a good balance between imports and exports, which is also a distinguishing feature of Antwerp”.

Antwerp handles an annual volume of 15 million t of West African freight. At the other end of the trade, international studies have showed that the volume of containers handled in West African ports has grown enormously since 2009.

Commenting on this, Van Peel said: "The same studies show that these ports are liable to have considerable further growth in container trade in the immediate future. Antwerp offers the greatest number of direct shipping services to West Africa, making it the ideal gateway to Europe for this trade."

The Port of Douala lies on the Wouri river and is the leading port in the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) economic zone. In 2016 it handled a freight volume of around 12 million t. However, the port is now at maximum capacity, hence the agreement with Antwerp in order to expand output. Under the terms of the MoU, Antwerp Port Training Centre (APEC) will investigate the possibility of organising training courses for dock workers, with a view to maximising the efficiency of port operations. For now APEC, which has already helped to train maritime professionals from Douala, will provide standard seminars and training courses. Consultants from PAI will also offer their expertise in making the most efficient use of the available port area. Finally, the agreement includes commitments in the field of marketing, exchange of information and best practices, and organising joint commercial events in order to promote both ports.

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