Ghana: First quarter cargo traffic rose by 12.6pc to 166,685 TEU

FIRST quarter laden container volume at Ghana's two seaports, Tema and Takoradi,increased 12

06 July 2020 - 19:00

FIRST quarter laden container volume at Ghana's two seaports, Tema and Takoradi,increased 12.6 per cent year on year to 166,685 TEU despite Covid-19 restrictions and disruptions to supply chains, according to the Bank of Ghana's (BoG) Real Sector Developments Report.

In March alone, when Covid-19 broke out in Ghana, total container traffic was 58,816 TEU, 18.1 per cent higher than the February throughput of 49,800 TEU and 7.6 per cent more on a year-on-year basis.

Data suggests that the virus pandemic scarcely affected the fortunes of the maritime sector during the first quarter, said the bank as reported in the Hellenic Shipping News.

Though the BoG data does not give the equivalent traffic in terms of tonnage, it is likely that also went up over the first quarter of 2019, when 3.5 million tonnes of containers were handled by the two seaports. This is because the higher container volume in the first quarter of 2020 would generally correspond to improved traffic in terms of tonnage.

The impressive first quarter results of the maritime sector can partly be attributed to the government's decision to allow port activities to go ahead despite the restrictions imposed on the country as part of efforts to fight the coronavirus.

The BoG data defied the projections of some industry analysts that the disruptions to global supply chains would have dire implications on the country's shipping business.

The Ghana Chamber of Shipping, for instance, had predicted a 15 per cent fall from the 3.5 million tonnes recorded in the first quarter of 2019.

'We are yet to get the final figures for the quarter, but we estimate that, looking at the disruptions to the supply chain, we are likely to lose about 15 per cent of our previous tonnage for same period 2019,' said chamber CEO Kofi Mbiah.

If the same rate of growth in container traffic seen in the first quarter of 2020 is maintained for the rest of the year, then it is predictable that total traffic for this operational year will be higher than that of 2019, despite the pandemic.

This could shore up overall economic activity, which, in the wake of the pandemic, has been forecast to experience an unprecedented slump in 2020.

Generally, cargo traffic to the country's seaports has seen continuous growth over the last decade, with throughput rising from 15.1 million tonnes in 2014 to 21.5 million tonnes as at 2017.

There was an eight per cent increase over the 2017 figure to 23.8 million tonnes in 2018, before it slipped to 20.8 million tonnes in 2019.

At the end of 2019, industry players were upbeat about a promising business year in 2020, banking on the prospects of the ultra-modern and sophisticated MPS Terminal 3 that was opened last year.

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