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ANTWERP: March 7, 2018. Following a recent agreement to help develop a new port in Dakar, Senegal, the Port of Antwerp is to provide Douala, Cameroon with a similar level of expertise over the next five years.

"With its exports of freight items such as timber and cacao, Cameroon has huge potential in Antwerp, which already has players active in these segments," declared port Alderman Marc Van Peel. "Moreover the port has a good balance between imports and exports, which is also a distinguishing feature of Antwerp," he added.

Antwerp and Douala signingDouala is a leading port in the Central African Economic and Monetary Community and handled 12 million tonnes in 2016. Now at maximum capacity, the Port Authority has turned to Antwerp for help in organizing training courses for dockworkers to improve operational efficiency.

Antwerp handles 15 million tonnes of West African freight a year and the volume of containers handled by the region’s ports has grown significantly since 2009 explains Van Peel: "These ports are liable to have considerable further growth in container trade in the immediate future. Antwerp offers the greatest number of direct shipping services to West Africa, making it the ideal gateway to Europe for this trade," he concluded.

As with Dakar, the new agreement between the two ports includes commitments for joint marketing, trade relations, and information exchange of Customs procedures, security and sustainability for the next five years.

Despite having one of the most diversified economies in the CEMAC region, Cameroon’s economic growth slowed to 3.7 percent in 2017 from 4.4 percent in the previous 12 months, according to the World Bank. However the government continues to implement an ambitious infrastructure plan while incentives for the agriculture and forestry sectors have contributed to sustained strong growth in public works, construction and services.

The Bank adds that Cameroon suffers from weak governance that hinders development and ability to attract investments. The country ranked 153 out of 180 countries on the 2017 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index and placed 172 out of 189 economies in the World Bank’s 2016 Doing Business Report.

(Pictured right to left: The collaboration agreement was signed by Cyrus Ngo’o, CEO of the Port Autonome de Douala, and Marc Van Peel and Kristof Waterschoot (not shown), respectively chairman and managing director of APEC and PAI, the two Antwerp Port Authority subsidiaries providing training and consulting services.

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