African Competition Increases as Hapag Develops New Terminal in Egypt
Hapag-Lloyd is developing a large container terminal in the northern Egyptian port of Damietta that will become a transshipment hub for the eastern Mediterranean. The German shipping company has been working to expand its role in African shipping and follows competitors Maersk, MSC, and CMA CGM that have all been investing in their terminal and logistics operations.
The new terminal will be built not far from Port Said and the northern terminus of the Suez Canal. Expected to start operations by 2024, it will have a total operational capacity of 3.3 million TEU when completed and serve as Hapag-Lloyd´s dedicated strategic transshipment hub in the eastern Mediterranean.
The location will place the new terminal in direct competition with the nearly 20-year-old Suez Canal Container Terminal, which is also currently undergoing renovations and expansion. Maersk’s APM Terminals owns 55 percent of the Suez terminal operation with a large investment also from COSCO. The terminal is being expanded to handle up to 5.4 million TEU and has capabilities to service the largest containership in operation with a total of 18 super-post Panamax cranes.
“With the new terminal Hapag-Lloyd will significantly improve its transshipment operation in the East Mediterranean market as well as access to the local Egyptian trade,” said Rolf Habben Jansen, CEO of Hapag-Lloyd.
The new terminal will be established through a joint venture with investments from Germany’s Eurogate which also operates terminals in Tangier, Italy, and Cyprus in the Mediterranean and Contship Italia Group which also operates terminals in the Mediterranean. Egypt will participate in the project through Middle East Logistics & Consultants Group and Ship & C.R.E.W. Egypt, which will each hold one percent of the joint venture.
The Egyptian Minister of Transport, Lieutenant-General Eng. Kamel Al-Wazir, commented, "This is a very encouraging, well-planned partnership of international and Egyptian private sector in order to position Egypt as a global hub for logistics and trade. In this first phase, we will establish the port of Damietta as an integrated logistics hub for containers, which will then be followed by the establishment of logistic corridors reaching to different manufacturing areas in Egypt by railway network."
Hapag has been using its strong profits from the containership operations to increase its investment and activity in Africa. In 2021, Hapag acquired Dutch container shipping company Nile Dutch which is one of the leading providers of container services to and from West Africa. Recently, Hapag also announced an agreement to acquire the container business of Deutsche Afrika-Linien which operates with four liner services between Europe, South Africa, and the Indian Ocean.
The competition in Africa is expected to increase as the major shipping companies increase their presence on the continent. In April 2022, MSC entered into a share purchase agreement for Bolloré group’s shipping, logistics, and terminal operations. Bolloré operates in 47 African countries with 16 container terminals, seven ro/ro terminals, two wood terminals, and a river terminal.