Dr. HARRY BARNES-DABBAN, Executive Coordinator
Most African ports have in the last decade seen institutional restructuring and reform in a bid to not only modernise infrastructure but to also enhance productivity, efficiency and quality of service delivery. This has successfully attracted private sector involvement in the ports and significantly improved port operational performance. The reform progress however does not reflect conscious environmental and sustainability improvements in the ports. It has mostly focused on renovating and modifying port infrastructure to strengthen the individual economic positions of the ports. Integrating the restructuring with environmental roles and actions to achieve economic, social and environmental sustainability remain limited, unsystematic and fragmented.

However, in the face of continual decline of the overall global environmental quality and increasing pressures on world resources, African ports as part of the global maritime community are faced with a reality they cannot ignore. They are obliged to take responsibility in applying and committing themselves to a green transition with innovations necessary to meet sustainable development obligations required of them.

African ports share common environmental and sustainability challenges, but the ports inherently operate as fragmented individual entities with little recourse to the linkages of these challenges among them.
Improving sustainability is a challenge to ports globally but it is also a driver for change. It can only be tackled through partnerships and collaboration, if its full benefits must be realised. The ports sector connects many actors in a chain. No port in the chain can be really effective if viewed in isolation. Actions impacting one port can have an impact throughout the entire chain.
African ports must therefore of necessity initiate proactive and innovative actions and mechanisms that integrate environmental sustainability considerations into the overall port planning, policy making, operations and management to promote their sustainable development. The drivers inducing the institutional restructuring and reform of African ports are equally imperative for nurturing and supporting the environmental sustainability of the ports. The ports must therefore collaboratively pay attention to understanding the dynamics of their institutional reform, appearance and participation of the private sector in port operations, global environmental and sustainability practices and obligations, and the common character of their environmental and sustainability challenges to co-develop solutions and actions for their sustainable development.


African ports have successfully ended their 3rd African Ports Environmental & Sustainability Conference under the theme ‘African Ports & the Sustainable Development Nexus’ held in Pointe Noire, Republic of Congo, from 11–13 February 2020. The conference, organized by the Ports Environmental Network-Africa (PENAf), Port Management Association of West and Central Africa (PMAWCA), and Port Authority of Pointe Noire (PAPN) drew participants from various African countries, USA, Belgium, Portugal, Greece, France and Netherlands. The participants represented governments, port authorities, terminal operators, businesses, international finance organisations, consultants and experts to deliberate and exchange knowledge, experience and best practices on port sustainability. The Deputy Netherlands Ambassador for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) participated as Special Guest of Honour in a demonstration of Netherlands’ interest and support of PENAf’s Initiative on International Collaboration for the sustainable development of African ports. Read More

Les ports africains ont terminé avec succès la troisième conférence sur l’environnement et la viabilité des ports africains, qui s’est tenue à Pointe Noire, en République du Congo, du 11 au 13 février 2020, sur le thème “Les ports africains et le lien avec le développement durable”. La conférence, organisée par Ports Environmental Network-Africa (PENAf), l’Association de Gestion des Ports de l’Afrique de l’Ouest et du Centre (AGEPAOC) et l’Autorité Portuaire de Pointe Noire (APPN), a enregistré des participants de divers pays africains, des ÉtatsUnis, de la Belgique, du Portugal, de la Grèce, de la France et des Pays-Bas. Lesdits participants représentant des gouvernements, des autorités portuaires, des opérateurs de terminaux, des entreprises, des organisations financières internationales, des consultants et des experts ont partagé des connaissances, des expériences et les meilleures pratiques en matière de viabilité portuaire. L’ambassadrice adjointe des Pays-Bas près la République Démocratique du Congo (RDC) y a participé en tant qu’invité spécial d’honneur et a traduit son intérêt et lesoutien des Pays-Bas à l’initiative du PENAf sur la collaboration internationale pour le développement durable des ports africains. Lire la suite