Mozambique’s Nacala port is thriving after $270-million upgrade

By our African Marketing Confederation News Team | 2024

An import-export gateway for Malawi and Zambia, the revamped port is one of the supply chain alternatives to Durban and Richards Bay.

The revamped Nacala port in Mozambique. Photo supplied

Given the capacity and efficiency problems being experienced at South Africa’s ports, importers and exporters in Southern Africa are increasingly eyeing the likes of the recently modernised Port of Nacala in the Mozambican province of Nampula. 


The volume of cargo being handled by the Indian Ocean port increased to a record level of 3.1-million tons in 2023, well ahead of the planned volume for the year. 


Cargo volume was 12.5% up on the 2022 figure and a significant 103% ahead of expectations for 2023, the Director for the Port of Nacala, Neimo Induna, said in a recent interview with the Lusa news agency. 


Nacala Bay is said by some to be the finest natural deep-water harbour in Africa, and is an import-export lifeline for landlocked Malawi, which is linked to the port by a 900km railway. It also serves Zambia and Mozambique’s Tete province. 


In his interview with the news agency, Induna said the revamped port was providing a supply chain alternative to many regional operators concerned about the problems being experienced at the South African ports of Durban and Richards Bay. 


All are on the east coast of Southern Africa, with Nacala being about 3,000km from Durban and 2,600km from Richards Bay. 


After undergoing refurbishment and when operating at full capacity, the Port of Nacala now has the capacity to handle 10-million tons of cargo per year, Induna said in the interview with the news agency. 


He added that it is in a privileged geographic location to feed the Middle Eastern and Asian markets.


No limitation on receiving ships 


“Allied to this geostrategic position is the fact that the port has a protected natural bay and, even more so, has great natural water depth. The access channel is around 60 metres deep and 800 metres wide. Therefore, this means that the port does not have any limitation on receiving ships 24 hours a day,” Induna stated. 


“We want to ensure that the Port of Nacala becomes the main port for other hinterland countries, such as some regions of Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo.” 


The rehabilitation of Nacala port, officially brought on stream in October last year, reportedly cost more than US$270-million and was financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). 


According to Africa-based supply chain expert Tielman Nieuwoudt, state-run ports in South Africa are “facing significant challenges”. The root causes include “poor management and under-investment”, he said in a LinkedIn post published earlier in January. 


“Consistently ranked low in terms of efficiency, the average waiting time for vessels in Durban reached 8.2 days during the first week of January,” Nieuwoudt stated. 


“Amidst these challenges, other African ports are capitalising on the opportunity. For instance, the Port of Maputo has experienced significant growth, with its shipping volumes increasing by 16% in 2023, reaching a record of 31.2-million tonnes. 


“Ports like Dar es Salaam (in Tanzania) and Mombasa (in Kenya) have also made strides in improving their operations, significantly reducing average cargo dwell times. These enhancements have made these ports more attractive alternatives for shippers looking to avoid congestion in South Africa.” 


Nieuwoudt is an occasional supply chain contributor to Strategic Marketing for Africa, the magazine of the African Marketing Confederation.

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    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
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    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

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