DP World plans $3 billion investment in African ports by 2029

Source: Bloomberg, Friday June 14, 2024
By Jennifer Zabasajja and Paul Burkhardt

Berbera Port and Bebera city in Somalia. Photographer: Ed Ram/AFP/Getty Images

(Bloomberg) — DP World plans to spend $3 billion over the next three to five years on new port infrastructure in Africa to meet long-term growth that includes surging demand for critical mineral exports.

“The cost of logistics and supply chain across Africa is very high relative to other global markets,” which presents a good opportunity, Mohammed Akoojee, DP World’s chief executive officer and managing director for sub-Saharan Africa, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. The port operator is expanding in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and has recently assessed harbors in South Africa and Kenya for potential investment. 

Eight of the world’s 15 fastest-growing economies will be in Africa this year, according to the International Monetary Fund. That’s luring companies including Dubai-based DP World, despite economic pain from accelerating inflation, depreciating currencies and high borrowing costs in the region.

Africa’s potential should be viewed over the long term, not by short-term macroeconomics, according to Akoojee. “It’s a cycle and it certainly hasn’t impacted our appetite for growth on the continent,” he said. “We’re still investing.”

A booming market for critical minerals including copper from Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo are helping drive the need for greater logistics capacity, Akoojee said. “We’ve seen demand increasing over the last few years, largely driven by the whole electrification drive globally and the demand for commodities like cobalt, lithium.”

Port Interest

DP World ’s Africa unit has 27,000 workers and covers ports, terminals, logistics and supply chain businesses. It failed in a bid to partner with South Africa’s Transnet SOC Ltd. to develop the biggest container port on the continent, losing to International Container Terminal Services Inc., which is owned by Filipino billionaire Enrique Razon.

That hasn’t deterred the company from looking to continue its expansion on the continent. As South Africa moves forward on the partial privatization of Transnet, “we remain interested in those opportunities,” Akoojee said. DP World is also looking at the port of Lamu in Kenya, where there’s also a privatization process underway.

–With assistance from Matthew Hill.