Ivory Coast’s Transshipment Terminal Officially Opens for Business

STS cranes at Ivory coast port CIT
Courtesy Port Autonome D'Abidjan

Published Nov 27, 2022 12:32 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Friday, Ivory Coast officially opened a second container terminal at the country’s main port of Abidjan. The opening of the Cote d’Ivoire Terminal (CIT) followed a series of test calls carried out earlier this year. The first vessel to be officially handled at the terminal is CMA CGM Rossini, a post-Panamax boxship with a capacity of 5770 TEU.

The CIT partnership was formed in 2013. The total project cost was $950 million, with 85% financed by China’s Exim bank and 15% by the Ivorian state. Phase one of the project consisted of deepening and widening of the Vridi access canal, together with reclamation of more than 45 hectares of land to create the new terminal.

As a result, CIT is one of the few terminals on West Africa’s coast able to accommodate new-generation vessels with a draft of 16 meters. It has a capacity to handle 1.5 million TEU annually.

The new terminal effectively transforms the Port of Abidjan into a transshipment hub, able to receive large vessels from Asia, Europe and America. Previously, some of the transshipment goods had to land in South Africa and then get transferred to West Africa using smaller vessels.

“We are no longer a second port. We are becoming a hub. In addition to national traffic, we will handle traffic from other ports that cannot accommodate large vessels,” CIT Technical Director Andre N’Doli told reporters on Friday.

With the new terminal operational, the Port Autonome d’Abidjan (PAA) estimates that Abidjan’s container traffic will increase from 1.2 million TEU to 3 million TEU per year.

CIT is operated under a 20-year concession by a joint venture between Bollore Logistics (now affiliated with MSC Shipping) and APM Terminals, a subsidiary of AP Moller-Maersk.

CIT features innovations geared towards decarbonization and digitization. Besides having automated gates and an online truck appointment system, cargo at the terminal will be handled using electric RTGs and Gaussin electric port tractors.

While CIT will greatly improve the Port of Abidjan’s competitiveness in West and Central Africa, other countries in the region have also invested in megaport expansion projects.

Last month, Nigeria’s Lekki Port began operations, and Nigeria hopes to leverage its immense economic influence to reorganize shipping in the West African region. Lekki Port has a water depth of 16.5 meters and a capacity of more than 2.7 million TEU.