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Cape Town’s container port has been ranked the worst in the world

The World Bank’s latest (2023) Container Port Performance Index (CPPI) has ranked Cape Town’s container port as the world’s worst.

Out of 405 global container ports evaluated, Cape Town came in last at 405th place. South Africa’s other major ports didn’t fare much better, with Durban ranked 398th and Port Elizabeth at 391st.

The CPPI ranks container ports on efficiency, focusing on the length of time vessels have to spend in a port.

The best container ports

On the upper end of the scale, the top-ranked container ports in the 2023 index include Yangshan (China), Salalah (Oman), Cartagena (Colombia), Tangier-Mediterranean (Morocco), and Tanjung Pelepas (Malaysia), highlighting a stark contrast to South Africa’s performance.

“Container ports are critical nodes in global supply chains and essential to the growth strategies of many emerging economies,” the World Bank stated.

The CPPI aims to identify areas for improvement that can benefit various stakeholders. This ranges from shipping lines to national governments and consumers.

The ranking uses data from the whole of 2023, considering only ports with a minimum of 24 valid port calls. It employs two approaches: an administrative (technical) approach, relying on expert knowledge, and a statistical approach using factor analysis.

These methods ensure the rankings reflect actual port performance while maintaining statistical robustness, the World Bank says.

These two approaches are then combined to produce one final aggregate ranking.

South Africa’s challenges

Despite a general improvement in global port arrival times, with Sub-Saharan Africa showing a two-hour improvement, Cape Town’s port lagged behind which offset these gains.

South Africa’s port challenges are well-documented. In 2023, extreme congestion at South African ports reached a crisis point, with the South African Association of Freight Forwarders reporting that port delays cost the South African economy R98 million daily.

State-owned logistics company Transnet has acknowledged the complexity of South Africa’s port issues, citing significant equipment and maintenance backlogs.

The World Bank’s full report can be obtained here.

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