Keppel Nantong - a joint venture between Keppel Offshore and Marine of Singapore and China Harbour Engineering Company – have been selected to build a facility which will provide repair and maintenance services for ships, offshore, subsea vessels, and drilling rigs in Ghana. Designed to cater to the maritime transportation, fishing, and offshore oil and gas industries – the facility will provide vessels operating in the Gulf of Guinea with significant savings as they would no longer have to sail to places like South Africa or Europe for upkeep work.
The project has been developed by Prime Meridian Docks (PMD), a Ghanaian company, which has a 25-year concession from the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority to provide repair and maintenance services for ships, offshore and subsea vessels, and drilling rigs. Once completed, UK-based Rigmar will operate the facility which includes a floating dry dock, workshop, warehouse and offices within the existing port of Takoradi, located 230kms west of the capital Accra.
The African Export-Import Bank recently approved US$50m in debt funding for the project, and PMD is reportedly finalising agreements with other lenders including the African Development Bank and UMB Bank as well as equity partners ARM Harith Infrastructure Fund and Stratcon Capital. The project’s total financing of US$137m comprises US$95m debt and US$42m in equity. Construction is anticipated to start in the fourth quarter of 2022.
The construction and management of African ports is attracting increasing attention from international companies, with China having established itself as a significant player. For instance, China Merchants Port Holdings has interests in ports in Nigeria, Togo and Djibouti, while China Harbour Engineering Company has completed dredging and marine engineering projects in countries like Angola and Egypt. Dubai-based DP World also has a strong focus on Africa and currently operates ports and container terminals in several countries, including Senegal, Egypt, Mozambique, Somaliland, Algeria and Angola. Another Emirati outfit, Abu Dhabi Ports, is reportedly also seeking to grow its currently limited African footprint.
Singapore, which has built expertise on modern port construction and management has become a competitive player in Africa in recent years. In 2020, officials from the Port of Singapore Authority Corporation met with the Egyptian transport minister to discuss cooperation in managing and operating a multipurpose terminal in Alexandria Port. The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore is driving a pilot project, launched in 2021, to streamline clearance processes and improve efficiency at the port of Lobito in Angola. Furthermore, Arise Ports & Logistics, which is partly owned by Singapore-based agribusiness company Olam, recently commissioned a new port terminal in San Pedro, Côte d'Ivoire, which it operates in addition to two terminals in Gabon.
‘ARM-Harith infrastructure fund lines up to invest in Ghanaian port project’, ARM-Harith, 22 September 2017
‘Egypt mulls operating multipurpose terminal in Alexandria Port with Singapore’, Egypt Independent, 03 October 2020
‘Africa’s trusted trade partner’, Arise P&L, 02 April 2021
‘SWiFT project takes off’, Horizon, November 2021
‘The last frontier: Gulf SWFs compete for African ports, but China is in control’, SWF, 20 January 2022
‘Afreximbank approves US$50m for Prime Meridian Docks Ghana Limited’, The Business & Financial Times, 05 September 2022
‘Overseas business list’, China Merchants Port Holdings, Accessed 18 September 2022
‘Projects’, China Harbour Engineering Company, Accessed 18 September 2022