MSC Expands Central African Service Leveraging Bolloré Acquisition

MSC in Congo
MSC is expanding service into the Republic of Congo as it seeks to grow operations in Africa (MSC)

Published Mar 3, 2023 4:23 PM by The Maritime Executive

Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) is moving to expand its service to Africa. The continent has been viewed as one of the strongest growth opportunities for shipping companies with each of the majors making significant investments in the region during 2022.

At the beginning of this week, MSC kicked off its expanded service into Central Africa with the arrival of MSC Virgo (157,000 dwt) at the Port of Pointe-Noire in the Republic of Congo. The containership which was built in 2020 with a capacity of 15,000 TEU arrived on February 27 on a route bringing it from China with stops in Singapore and Sri Lanka before Congo. She departed the following day for Ghana.

MSC notes that this is part of the company’s expansion plans to extend its network in sub-Saharan Africa. MSC redesigned its service to Central and West Africa. The move also leverages MSC’s $6.1 billion acquisition of Bolloré Africa Logistics which closed at the end of 2022. MSC said at the time that the acquisition of the company which operates in 47 African countries was part of a broader expansion strategy.

“The arrival of the MSC Virgo at the Port of Pointe-Noire marks yet another milestone in the development of this important African port,” MSC said describing its strategy. “Its presence will further contribute to the economic development of the region, while it is indicative of MSC's commitment to investing in Africa.”

MSC said that Pointe-Noire is strategic for its operations in Central Africa and provides an essential link to the region. The new call is designed to enable direct and quick exchanges with Asia and Europe, while also positioning the Port of Pointe-Noire as a transshipments platform for goods destined for Angola and Namibia. MSC is combining three maritime services calling at the port going forward.

Pointe-Noire is the second largest city in the Republic of the Congo, and the location for the Congo Terminal, a subsidiary of the Bolloré Transport & Logistics group. Bolloré has been operating the terminal since 2009 while undertaking an investment program to optimize the terminal’s capacities. In the first phase, they added 885 feet to the pier reclaiming land from the bay and providing for a draft of 49 feet. They also invested in new information systems while also renovating and expanding the container yards. The second phase of the investments increased the berth to nearly 5,000 feet and the container storage area to nearly 90 acres. 

The Port of Pointe-Noire had a record year of over one million containers handled after the expansion program. With the increased service from MSC, they expect the volumes will grow significantly.