Booming trade ups freight from India to Africa

April 6th, 2011 - 3:30 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 6 (IANS) In a reflection of booming trade, freight from India to Africa has been increasing by 15-20 percent annually for the past three years, says a top official of Bollore Africa Logistics, a leading logistics company operating in the 53-nation continent.

“There was a growth of more than 15 percent in cargo movement last year,” said S.K. Sharma, who is the sales head of Bollore Africa Logistics’ India division.

“Vessel frequency has increased and every major shipping line is putting its own vessels on the African route,” he said, adding that major Indian investors were going to Africa.

A reason for the steady increase in freight is that Indian cargo is being carried to more ports on the western coast of Africa. The main ports for export from India in west Africa are Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Ivory Coast, Angola, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Congo and Guinea-Conakry.

This is a huge market that has opened up for India in recent years. These ports are in addition to the traditional export markets for India in Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique and South Africa.

The shipping industry expects the worldwide volume of trade on the African routes to grow faster than those to mature markets, though it may be a slower growth than shipping volumes on routes to the bigger emerging markets like China, Brazil and India.

The frequency of ships sailing from India to Africa has gone up, especially since about 60 percent of the freight is carried by sea. India’s major investments in Africa have taken place in the oil and gas, telecommunications, transport and information technology (IT) sectors.

Exim Bank’s chairman and managing director T.C.A. Ranganathan said at the Exim Bank-CII India-Africa Business Conclave last month that India-Africa trade had gone up seven-fold in the last seven years.

He noted that six of the world’s fastest growing countries were in Africa. India and Africa’s economic engagement has been increasing through the years and the trade went up to $45 billion last year.

India-Africa trade may touch $70 billion by 2015. Air cargo and ocean freight volumes were expected to grow at over nine percent annually till then, he said.

Bollore Logistics’ India operations handle 50,000 containers per month of both 20 feet and 40 feet size, together with 100,000 tonnes of break bulk (non-containerised freight) and 20,000 tonnes of air shipments per month.

A major part of cargo dispatched from India is heavy equipment such as power plant equipment, electrical transmission products, builder hardware, telecom material and steel bars.

(Shubha Singh can be contacted at shubhasingh101@gmail.com)

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