As of early April, shipping line Hapag-Lloyd AG will service the ports of Mombasa, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The port rotation will be Jeddah – Mombasa – Dar es Salaam –
This is the first time that H-L ventures into East Africa.
The new service, operated by a total of four 1,200 TEU vessels, will be offered weekly, connecting H-L’s central regional hub Jeddah in Saudi Arabia with Kenya and Tanzania. According to H-L
spokesperson Monika Gabler, containers arriving with larger ships from Europe or the Far East at Jeddah and destined for East Africa, are quickly transited in the Saudi Arabian port for onward
sailing to Mombasa or Dar es Salaam.
Fast transits a Jeddah
The same applies to the reverse direction shipments run. Once the new East African Services (EAS) commence, Jeddah’s role as regional transit hub for H-L’s shipping activities will be strengthened by connecting to Hapag-Lloyd’s existing global network.
With Jeddah becoming the main transshipment port, Lars Christiansen, Senior Managing Director Region Middle East emphasized that Hapag-Lloyd gains a competitive advantage by offering customers fast transit times significantly below those of its competitors.
Rising volumes into Africa expected
Their African venture follows the merger with the United Arab Shipping Company (UASC), which strengthened the combined liner shipping company’s market position in the Middle East and the countries bordering the Indian Ocean. Against this background, the management decided to significantly expand the company’s regional network. So far, “we have shown little presence on the African continent,” admits spokesperson Monika Gabler. However, this white spot will be filled in April once the H-L operated 1,200 TEU vessels start calling at the ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam.
The hinterland benefits
Asked about the business prospect, the management emphasizes that Africa is in particular a strong import market. “We expect import volumes to continue rising as growth expectations in the East Africa region range from six to ten percent annually.”
But not only Kenya and Tanzania will benefit from the new offer. This applies also to the fast-growing economies of countries further inland from Kenya and Tanzania, which lack their own seaports since they will be linked to the global market. “Via the EAS, Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi and Zambia will gain direct access to markets worldwide,” reads a company release.
H-L will operate its East Africa Service in an entirely independent manner, without partnering with other shipping companies.
More vessels are being recycled
Following previous scrapping programs, the company announced to recycle seven aging container ships each of 4,101 TEU in line with environmental regulations in certified shipyards located in China and Turkey.
“The recycling of these ships is part of the restructuring of our fleet,” says Anthony Firmin, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Hapag-Lloyd. “Since the merger with UASC, we boast one of the youngest fleets in the industry on average.”
In addition to this, H-L announced staff changes in North America, with long-time regional president Wolfgang Freese retiring after serving the Hamburg-based shipping line for almost five decades. He will be succeeded by former Maersk manager Uffe Ostergaard who takes on his new role on 1. April.
On the occasion of this personnel change H-L CEO Rolf Habben Jansen stated: “We owe very sincere thanks to Wolfgang Freese,” Over decades, he made a major contribution to the success of our company with his hard work and high degree of personal commitment.”