After the international public call for expressions of interest launched on 18 January 2018, in order to recruit a port operator for the concession of the container terminal of the Port of Douala, located in the Cameroonian economic capital, Cameroon comes Short-list four operators out of the 10 who applied. Two of them have never operated in Africa.
It is Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH), a Hong Kong-based company. Although claiming a global network, this operator has so far no port concession on the African continent. Subsidiary of 80% of CK Hutchison Holdings, and 20% of Singaporean PSA International, HPH is domiciled in the British Virgin Islands, territory generally presented as a tax haven. For fifteen years, this company has been ranked among the world’s leading operators of port terminals for container ships, with a greater presence in China and Asia, more generally.
To possibly replace the couple Bolloré-APMT, which controls Douala International Terminal (DIT), the current concessionaire of the container terminal of the Port of Douala, Cameroon also short-listed Port of Singapore Authority (PSA International), another operator port that is not present in Africa. But, which manages 28 ports in 16 countries in Asia, Europe and America, with a global capacity of 111 million TEU containers, and more than 66 km long docks.
Then come two other companies, this time accustomed to African ports. It is first DIT, concessionaire out of the terminal put in competition (the concession ends at the end of the year 2019), which is a consortium formed by the French logistician Bolloré Africa Logistics (BAL) and the Dutch APM Terminals.
BAL, which also operates the container terminal of the deep-water port of Kribi (South Cameroon), under a concession, with the French CMA CGM and the Chinese CHEC, claims 16 container terminals operated on the African continent ; while APMT Maersk is present in 23 countries and operates 42 dry ports and ports in Africa and the Middle East.
Finally, among potential concessionaires familiar with African ports, there is Dubai Ports World (Dp-World), a Dubai-based operator, the world’s third-largest port operator with 49 terminals around the world. Previously present in four African countries (Algeria, Djibouti, Mozambique and Senegal), this company had its contract on the Djibouti port of Doraleh (which it had been operating since 2006) to be terminated by the State on 22 February 2018.
” DP World has never really sought to develop Doraleh (which operated at 40% of its capacity), in order to promote the emergence of the port of Dubai, Jebel Ali. It was a question of restricting competition by controlling it and limiting ourselves to the local market and to Ethiopia, even if it meant discouraging large foreign shipowners from coming to visit our port. They do the same thing in Aden, Berbera and elsewhere. It is economic Malthusianism for their sole benefit. We do not accept it, “said Ismail Djmar Guelleh, the head of the Djibouti state, to justify the breach of trust with this port operator who is eyeing the container terminal of the Port of Douala, in the economic capital of Cameroon.