By Mike Cohen
(Bloomberg) — A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S, owner of the world’s largest container line, aims to win more African port contracts after a group to which it belongs was selected to build and run a container terminal in Ivory Coast.
Maersk has operations in more than 40 African nations and generates about 10 percent of its sales in and around the continent. Besides its shipping business, the Copenhagen-based company has interests in nine ports in eight West African countries and supplies oil- and gas-related services.
“We are working closely with governments on the ports,” which play a key role in driving the continent’s growth, Lars Reno Jakobsen, Maersk’s senior vice president for Africa, said in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Cape Town. “There is an increasing awareness that infrastructure investments need to at least double to keep track with the current economic development. We are very willing to be a partner.”
Maersk joined with Bollore SA and Bouygues SA to win the 450 million-euro ($591 million) contract for the second container terminal in Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s commercial capital, according to a March 25 e-mail from Bollore. The terminal will start operating in 2016, it said.
Maersk is targeting annual sales growth of at least 10 percent from Africa in coming years.
Shipments of agricultural products, including timber and fruit, are rising as the continent diversifies its trade away from raw materials, Jakobsen said.
“We are starting to see some value-add in Africa, which is very good for the economy and for employment,” he said. “The next wave of export development could go from raw materials into agricultural products and consumer manufactured goods.”
Natural resources accounted for an average 14 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s gross domestic product between 2000 and 2011, according to the World Bank. Ivory Coast is the world’s biggest cocoa producer.
Maersk operates ports through its APM Terminals unit, which has locations in 68 countries, the subsidiary’s website showed.
Copyright 2013 Bloomberg.