19 March 2012
South Africa has officially opened the multi-billion rand Port of Ngqura outside Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. The port is the deepest container terminal in sub-Saharan Africa, and will accommodate the new generation of giant container ships traversing Africa’s southern tip.
Experts say the port and its mega container terminal offer a solution to South Africa’s long-time shortage of container capacity, resulting from the growth in container traffic globally.
Speaking at Friday’s opening, President Jacob Zuma said the Ngqura Trade Port would boost South Africa’s trade with other countries in the region while supporting the country’s New Growth Path.
Cutting shipping time and costs
This included reduced the cost of doing business in South Africa, by cutting shipping time and costs, while promoting locally produced goods for both for the local market and for export.
Zuma said the state’s mega-infrastructure plan cut across all nine provinces and was central to the government’s long-term economic development plan.
“The planning of the Ngqura has been integrated with that of the Coega Industrial Development Zone, and this will ensure increased benefits for the province and business,” Zuma said.
“It has also made it possible for the province to participate in the country’s minerals sector.”
8 000 artisans trained
State freight logistics group Transnet has been building the port, which forms part of the Coega Industrial Development Zone, for the past 12 years – in the process creating an 8 000-strong pool of South Africans with artisan skills.
With further construction ongoing, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba believes the port will be even “greater” than it currently is by 2019, when additional structures are expected to be in place.
Transnet chairperson Mafika Mkwanazi, also speaking at Friday’s opening, said it would ensure that the port became as economically viable as those in Richards Bay and Durban.
The National Ports Authority is also drawing up plans for a R21.3-billion infrastructure upgrade programme of the country’s busiest harbour in Durban over the coming seven years.