Exploring Africa’s Maritime Gateways

ports in africa

Africa is home to numerous ports that play a vital role in the continent’s economy and global trade. In this article, we will explore the top 10 ports in Africa, highlighting their significance and contributions to the region’s maritime industry. From bustling commercial hubs to strategic gateways, these ports are key players in connecting Africa to the world.

Join us as we dive into the maritime landscape of Africa and discover the busiest and most important ports on the continent.

Top 10 Ports in Africa

Africa’s ports are a viable source of revenue for the nation. They are also tourist attractions. Due to their highly successful port management agreements. African ports have grown popular. A large portion of the country’s imports and exports pass through these ports.

The country is quite proud of its top 10 ports in Africa, which are:

a. Durban Port in Africa

Durban is a port city on South Africa’s east coast. The port entities that make up the Durban port are;

  • Transnet Port Terminals
  • Durban Container Terminal,
  • Pier 1 Container Terminal,
  • Multi-Purpose Terminal
  • Durban Car Terminal, and Maydon Wharf Terminal

It is Africa’s busiest harbor. Durban has at least 59 slots, making it one of the largest cargo ports> in Southern Africa. The port is still expanding and developing new sections nowadays. Its connection is to key industrial districts. 

The port of South Africa location is in the city’s central business sector. It is also Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest shipping terminal. Also, the Southern Hemisphere’s fourth-largest container terminal.

Durban port is Africa’s busiest port. Durban’s port handled 3253 ships with a gross tonnage of 122 million gross tons in 2019. Eighty-one million tons of cargo also handle by the port.

Each year, it transports up to 31.4 million tons of freight. In 2012, it also handles remarkable 2.5 million TEUs, according to records.

Durban Port handles 60% of all container traffic in South Africa. The Port of Durban serves as a major crossroads for Southern Africa. Connecting it to the Far East, Middle East, Australasia, South America and also  North America. In terms of capacity, Durban is Africa’s largest container port. It’s the main container port in South Africa. Each month, this port handles an average of 84 cargo. General-purpose containers, reefers, atypical containers, and containers are among the containers it serves.

It features two floating ducks, one of which is under the custody of the National Park Service. Over 880 ships also pass through this port each month, and also the number is growing every year.

Port Description

The Port is the fourth biggest in the Southern Hemisphere for containers. (Indonesia’s Jakarta comes in first, followed by Surabaya and Santos, respectively. There are 21 kilometers surrounding the Port (13 miles). Following are the main 302 kilometers of rail lines (188 miles). The Port has approximately 20 terminal operators taking care of the 58 berths in the Port. Each year, more than 4,500 commercial ships make port calls.

Recently, the Port’s width was increased. The current harbor entrance depth in the approach channel is 19 meters (62 feet). Dropping to 16 meters once within the Port. Now 220 meters are available for navigation (720 ft).

Since the third quarter of 2020, the Port had a decline of “5% of the liner shipping services. 6.2 % of ship calls, and 2.8 % of the deployed capacity”. This was due to the negative effect of the globalization COVID-19 outbreak. But during that same time, greatest capacity of container ships visiting the Port rose by 14.5%.

Port Development

South African government unveiled a $7 billion rehabilitation. Also, for development plan for the major ports in April 2021. This was to boost efficiency and enhance its reputation. Because it is one of Africa’s greatest and largest ports. By 2031, the program anticipated to increase port capacity from 2.9 million TEU to more than 11 million TEU.

The plan has drawn criticism from labor unions over their lack of input. Construction contracts and their warning that the government’s aim to work with. They also work with the private sector to finish the expansion. This could result in job losses for a heavily indebted state-owned enterprise.

b. Richards Bay Port in Africa

Port Richards Bay, which is roughly 40 years old, is one of the world’s largest ports. It is the world’s largest coal export terminal near the Durban port. The location was once a tiny fishing town. Before its transformation into an industrial city. The addition of this beautiful port then enhanced it.

On the eastern seaboard of S.A, the Port of Richards Bay, the largest coal export terminal. lies about 160 kilometers north of Durban and 465 kilometers south of Maputo. Accounting for more than 60% of all seaborne freight in South Africa. Roughly 1700 vessels call at one of five dedicated cargo-handling facilities each year.Top 10 Ports in Africa

The Port of Richards Bay features a 300-meter-wide entrance channel with a 17.5-meter draft.

It has a new bulk liquid handling dock. A ship maintenance facility is already under construction. The sister port at Durban. 160 kilometers south, handles container traffic for the hinterland. Although a 50,000 TEU container handling facility project is in the basic design stage


The main emphasis is on cargo transport, with coal exports being the main cargo handled at the Port. Through a dedicated rail route, Richards Bay has connection to the Mpumalanga fields. To Gauteng, to Durban in the south, and eastern Mpumalanga via Swaziland. Richards Bay has first-rate road accessibility.

Richards Bay has increased its diversification, and its market sectors continue to rise. Today, the Port also handles dry bulk, break-bulk, and bulk liquid commodities. Such as three million tons of magnetite, a by-product of rock phosphate activities. About 2.5 million tons of ferrochrome used in the production of stainless steel. China and India import large amounts of magnetite for the production of steel. The volumes passing through the Port will rise to approximately 10 million tons.

Goods shipped by the port

The Port transports various other goods, including 1.7 million tons of alumina. This is from Australasia for the two Richards Bay-based aluminum manufacturers. 2.5 million tons of coking coal annually for steel production.

A dry dock ship repair facility that can handle Cape-sized boats. This can build as part of the current expansion phase. Along with this, plans are being made to update the Port’s infrastructure. These upgrades will include the addition of four new tugs between 2011 and 2014. Also, improvements to the rail, road, and electricity systems. The break-bulk capacity will rise with the next berth expansion in 2014.

c. Dar es Salaam Port in Africa

The port of Dar es Salaam is Tanzania’s most important. It has a dry cargo capacity of 4 million and a bulk liquid cargo capacity of 6 million. The port processes 95 percent of Tanzania’s international trade. It serves Malawi, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda.

This is the largest of Tanzania’s cities and the country’s capital. Most of the agricultural and mineral exports are shipped through the Port of Dar es Salaam.

It is one beautiful port, and it is a Tanzanian competitor to Port Mombasa.

The two ports compete healthily, as is customary in Africa. This port is vital to the worldwide market and serves as a historical monument in Africa.

It takes advantage of its location at the crossroads of two railway lines reaching the. In addition, 2 kilometers from the harbor is an inland container depot.

Port resource

There are 11 berths totaling more than 2,000 meters in length in Dar es Salaam’s Port. One of the two container terminals is among the terminals that have privatization. 3.1 million tons of general cargo. 6 million tons of liquid cargo transport. Also 1 million tons of shipping containers are said to be the Port’s design capabilities. However, attempts are being made to raise the respective capabilities.

Port services

The following marine vessels are used in the Port of Dar es Salaam:

  • Six layover pulls
  • Sixteen heavier pulling nudges
  • Four flashlights, components work launches
  • Two pilot crafts
  • Two naval ships and thirteen moorings’ ships

Port quantities

The Port of Dar es Salaam handled 14.314 million tons of cargo in 2013/14. 12.531 million tons in the fiscal year 2012/13). Compared to the previous fiscal year (1,366 vessel calls of all sorts, 24.860 mt gt). The number of vessels calls at Dar es Salaam in 2013/14 was 1,487.

Two container terminals in Dar es Salaam handled the following     during the 2013–2014:

TICTS: 404,100 TEU (2012/13: 399,961 TEU)

General Cargo Terminal: 186,663 TEU (2012/13: 153,091 TEU); total TEUs in the port: 590,763 (2012/13: 585,585 TEU).

d. Kenya- Mombasa Port in Africa

Kenya is noted for its remarkable export and import operations through the Mombasa port, located in one of Africa’s most prominent towns.

Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo use Mombasa as their common port. This port, built-in 1980, now sees a lot of heavy traffic.

Because it was built before Portuguese explorers arrived in the region, Port Mombasa is known as “the city of merchants.”

A railway service connects the port to local enterprises in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. It also connects those dealers to 80 ports worldwide. It has a container capacity of 1.4 million.

Cold storage, warehousing, and container terminals are available at the port. Mombasa handles major international shipping lines and has around 8.1 million tons of annual freight flow, with imports accounting for 72 percent.

The Port underwent the necessary development to become a modern harbor. It allowed the export of iron ore from Mines in the Northern Cape. For this, a deepwater pier in Saldanha Bay had to be built to accommodate the Capsize ore carriers and a railroad that would travel more than 800 km to the mines at Sishen in the Northern Cape. On board the ship Fern Sea in September 1976, the first iron ore shipments were exported.

e. Saldanha Bay Port in Africa

This is one of Africa’s oldest ports. It has existed since the 1970s and serves as a point of entry to other continents and countries. Port Saldanha Bay is one of Africa’s most efficient ports, and it has made a name for itself by keeping up with the times.

It accommodates new firms and increases trade every year, becoming a magnet for overseas exports. Partially protected by a 3.1km long artificial breakwater located at Longitude 17o 58′ E and Latitude 33o 02′ S.

Dutch explorer Van Spielberger explored Saldanha Bay in 1601. It was probably only the scarcity of freshwater that prevented this otherwise outstanding natural harbor from overtaking Cape Town as the primary port along Africa’s south coast.

When it became necessary to facilitate iron ore export from Mines in the Northern Cape, the port was transformed into a modern harbor. This necessitated the construction of an 800-kilometer railway to the Sishen mines in the north.

f. Port Said Port in Africa

This is one of Africa’s most advanced ports. The port established a name for itself in the trading sector only a decade after it was built.

Egypt benefits greatly from the Suez Canal port since it connects it to Africa. International collaborators and also tourists flock to the city.

At Port Said East’s northern entrance to the Suez Canal, a cutting-edge transshipment facility has evolved to serve the Mediterranean. The facility is strategically placed at the Suez Canal’s entry, allowing vessels catering to European trade from the Middle East, Asia, and East Africa to pass through with little detour. With operations beginning in 2004, the container port is one of Africa’s newest, and its position in the Top Ten African Ports is justified due to its rapid growth.

SCCT was the first Egyptian port to have 12 super post-Panamax cranes, and the port handled 700,000 TEUs in its first full year of operation. During the first 18 months of operation, the one million TEU mark was reached.

The terminal’s quay wall is 1,200 meters long, and it can accommodate 47,500 containers, with 976 reefer slots. A plan to expand the terminal’s size by 2009 is already underway.

Port development

In January 2007, the port set a new national record for productivity, with 47.6 transfers per hour. In just one day, a total of 1482 containers were moved.

Since its founding, Port Said had served as a worldwide metropolis and has thrived, especially throughout the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries when it was home to people of all ethnicities and religions.

They formed a multicultural community while coming primarily from Mediterranean nations and coexisting with tolerance. To this effect, Rudyard Kipling once remarked: “There are two locations on the planet where you can look for a traveler you know if you want to: the docks in London and Port Said. If you sit and wait, eventually, your man will be there.

g. Port of Lagos in Africa

Lagos port is one of West Africa’s most well-known ports. It is also separable using into three sections: the Lagos Port, Tin Can Port, and Apapa Port, all located in Nigeria. Each component is placed in the Gulf of Guinea with care.

Apapa Container Terminal is a 44-hectare port. Handle up to 22,000 TEUs of containerized goods. It has featured six berths and a 6.5 thousand square meters covered storage area. There are 298 reefer plugs in the container yard, which can handle 19.5 thousand TEUs.

It is linked to its neighbors, including Benin, Niger, and Cameroon. Another notable feature is the Marina transportation academy. It provides many jobs for the residents.

The terminal handles supplies for the most populous nation in Africa. Including consumer goods, food, vehicles, machinery, and industrial raw materials. Even though exports of timber, cacao and groundnuts have decreased since 1970s. The port has been handling rising crude oil exports.

Economy of Nigeria is now more dependent on petroleum products. This has helped offset the decline in raw resources. 95% of foreign exchange profits and 20% of the economy was from the hydrocarbon sector.

The port is the western terminus for Nigeria’s road and also rail networks. Ijebu Terminal handles both domestic & global travelers.

The Port was founded in 1913, and the first four deep-water berths its construction in 1921. It is cost-effective and user-friendly to its contemporary cargo handling equipment. It benefits from the rail, water, and multimodal road connections. It boasts an 8-meter-long four-wheel gate for huge cargoes. Giving the Port an advantage over other ports in handling oversized commodities.

The Federal Government implemented the landlord port model to boost operations and also efficiency. This culminated in the concession of the terminals to private operators in 2006.

h. Walvis Bay port in Namibia

This is a major international trading port halfway down Namibia’s coast. It has easy access to key maritime lanes. Port Walvis Bay is Namibia’s busiest commercial port. With over 3,000 ships passing through each year. 5 million tons of cargo pass through the port.

It is a world-class infrastructure and dependable machinery. Cargoes are transported and reliably. The Walvis Bay Port handles containers, transshipments, and bulk commodities.

Namport, Walvis Bay’s operator, built a new container terminal. The handling capacity is also from 350 to 750 thousand TEUs.

Port operations

The import and export business in Namibia, West Africa, is mostly handled by this port. When foreign exporters consider the African market. This port also is their first choice because it is one of the most known. It is destination and an excellent pick-up point for new importers and exporters.

The port now handles more than two million tons of cargo per year. Also attracts more regular callers. Among these are Maersk, and MACS Line, which provide links or direct sailings to Europe. As well as Unicorn which operates service between the United States and South Africa.

Aside from small ships and fishing vessels, the port offers nine berths. Walvis Bay operates a fleet of two 23-tonne, 28-tonne bollard-pulling Azimuth-propelled harbor tugs.

Walvis Bay receives an average of 1000 ships per year. The current capacity estimation is 5 million tons. There’s also a dolphin-style tanker berth for tankers up to 192 meters long. Also, a tanker berth for smaller vessels.
The major commercial Port in Namibia is Port Walvis Bay. It handles over 5 million tons of cargo and receives roughly 3,000 vessel calls.

The Port of Walvis Bay is secure, effective, and  also  the highest caliber. There are mild weather conditions all year round, and weather-related delays don’t exist.

Reliable and secure cargo handling is made possible by its equipment and infrastructure. The Port of Walvis Bay manages container imports. Exports, transshipments, bulk, and break-bulk cargoes of various commodities. The petroleum, salt, mining, and also fishing sectors are just a few of that Namport supports. Export of Salt in bulk and bags from the Port of Walvis Bay.

i. Port of Beira in Africa

On the northern side of the Mozambique Channel, the Port of Beira Is located. Through the Port of Beira, Central African goods are exported. The Port of Beira serves as the principal port for inland nations . It has railways connecting Zimbabwe, Congo, Zambia, and Malawi to the port.

The city of Beira is Mozambique’s third-largest. The container terminal features four berths, each measuring 645 meters in length. The terminal’s annual capacity is estimated to be 400,000 TEUs.

This port, connected to the Pungue River, is one of Africa’s most important ports. One of the port’s importance is its train and road connections to Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Zambia.

Port Beira enjoys direct access to Europe, Asia, and the Middle East through the sea. Its multiple births are well-known for transport and also fishing. Also, this port is among Africa’s top ten ports.

Beira is the primary Port for shipments and imports from Mozambique. A key entry point for the landlocked nations of southeast Africa. It also serves by substantial rail and road network systems. It also offers convenient access route for transit commodities to and also from Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, and the DRC. Additionally, a fuel pipeline connects Zimbabwe and the Port.

There are 11 berths in the Port of Beira, totaling 1,994 meters in length. This does not include berth No. 1, which is set aside as a fishing harbor. Since 1998, it has been run by “Cornelder de Mozambique. A joint venture between CFM (parastatal) and Cornelder Holding from the Netherlands.

j. Djibouti Port in Africa

The port is a port in Djibouti City, Djibouti Republic. Europe, the Far East, the Horn of Africa, and the Persian Gulf are all connection through this port.

It is situated on the Bank of Tadjoura, off the sea and the Gulf of Yemen. Djibouti’s port has 18 berths totaling 2830 meters in length. Eight berths are available in the general cargo area. A total of two berths are also  available at the Container Terminal. Two berths with an along the height of 18 meters are available at the Oil Terminal.

Advantages of the port

One of the advantages of Port Djibouti is its train connection to Ethiopia. It also benefits from being connected to over 40 foreign corporations. As the principal import and export transit point.

This port is also regarded as the most efficient in the trading industry and is also active all year. If traders and also importers want to use Port Djibouti, they must often reserve cargo in advance.

Port background

In the 18th century, Djibouti was a French colony. The city was divided into an African neighborhood and a residential area. This was because of Europeans close to the major market. Divergent architectural styles mirrored by the structures. It was from bygone eras are a constant reminder of this separation today.

Djibouti has been an important regional shipping route for 3500 years. Even though the French created the groundwork for the present Port. The Red Sea, which connects Asia and Africa, was hub for trade for many civilizations. They included Egyptians, Phoenicians, Romans, Greeks, Byzantines, Arabs. Also, Europeans who traveled on its waters to find the spice route.

The Port of Djibouti construction was in 1888 by Leone Lagarde. The first French ruler of Somaliland. It also had development after becoming colony’s capital to enable maritime trade with Ethiopia. a landlocked country. To accommodate this, berths were built, and by 1917, it had been connecting to the railway system.

In conclusion, the ports of Africa are best because most of them are a source of revenue for the nation. Also, tourist attractions in their country.


  1. What are the six top Ports in Africa?
  • Morocco, Tangier Port.
  • Egypt, Port Said.
  • South African, Port of Durban.
  • Algerian, Port of Djen Djen.
  • Kenya, Mombasa Port.
  • Nigeria’s Lagos Port.
  1. What is Africa’s busiest port?

The Port of Durban, often known as Durban Harbour, is Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest and also busiest maritime terminal. Each year, it transports up to 31.4 million tons of freight.

  1. What is East Africa’s largest port?

Kilindini Harbour is the heart of the Port of Mombasa, Kenya’s only international port and also the continent’s largest. Kenya Ports Authority manages it.

  1. List the country’s top ten ports, which are a source of immense pride and satisfaction.
  • Durban port in South Africa.
  • Richards Bay Port.
  • Mombasa port.
  • Port Dar es Salaam.
  • Beira port.
  • Djibouti port.
  • Port Suez Canal Container Terminal.
  1. What products does Saldanha Bay deal with?

Various mineral exports, steel coils, and also pig iron are among the cargo handle at the multi-purpose terminal. Anthracite, coking coal, and also steel pellets are among the imports. Port control is available around the clock. Saldanha Bay has no bunkering facilities.