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Cape Town Port Ranked the World’s Worst for 2023 by World Bank Report

Posted on June 10, 2024

In a startling revelation, the World Bank and S&P Global Container Port Performance Index for 2023 has ranked Cape Town’s port as the worst performing among 405 ports worldwide. This ranking, alongside the Port of Ngqura in the Eastern Cape, highlights significant challenges facing South Africa’s port infrastructure and operational efficiency.

The index revealed that South Africa’s ports are struggling with performance and competitiveness. The Port of Durban, the country’s largest and busiest port, was ranked 399th. Even the highest-ranked South African port, the Port of Port Elizabeth, only managed to secure the 391st position.

Global Comparisons and Regional Highlights

Globally, the Port of Yangshan in China was rated as the best performing port, followed by the Port of Salalah in Oman and the Cartagena Port in Colombia. These ports have set benchmarks in efficiency, technology adoption, and infrastructure that ports worldwide strive to emulate.

In contrast, Cape Town’s poor ranking underscores significant issues in port operations and competitiveness. In sub-Saharan Africa, the Port of Berbera and the Port of Mogadishu in Somalia were noted as the best performing, ranking 103rd and 176th respectively, showcasing a stark performance gap within the region.

Implications for Trade and Economic Growth

The report by the World Bank and S&P Global emphasizes the need for major ports to invest in resilience, new technology, and green infrastructure to stabilize global markets and support the sustainability of the shipping industry. Martin Humphreys, the lead transport economist at the World Bank, stressed the urgency of these investments to enhance port efficiency and competitiveness.

Turloch Mooney, head of port intelligence & analytics at S&P Global Market Intelligence, highlighted the broader impacts of poor port performance. He explained that inefficiencies in port operations could disrupt entire shipping schedules, increasing the costs of imports and exports and hindering economic growth and poverty reduction.

Cruise Tourism in Cape Town: A Bright Spot

Despite the negative ranking for container shipping, Cape Town remains a vibrant destination for cruise tourism. The city’s picturesque waterfront and iconic landmarks like Table Mountain continue to attract cruise liners and tourists from around the globe.

Cape Town’s cruise terminal at the V&A Waterfront is a significant gateway for international travelers, contributing to the city’s tourism and local economy. The terminal’s strategic location offers easy access to Cape Town’s bustling markets, historical sites, and natural wonders, making it an attractive stopover for cruise passengers.

Investing in port infrastructure not only boosts trade but also enhances the city’s appeal as a cruise destination. Improvements in port efficiency and facilities can significantly benefit the cruise tourism sector, offering a smoother and more enjoyable experience for travelers.

Looking Ahead

The stark performance of South Africa’s ports calls for urgent action to address the inefficiencies and enhance operational capabilities. For Cape Town, revitalizing its port infrastructure and services is crucial, not only for improving global trade rankings but also for bolstering its burgeoning cruise tourism industry.


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