The Busiest Cargo Ports in Africa

The port of Apapa in Lagos, Nigeria handles up to 25 million tons of cargo per year.  Editorial credit: Druid007 /
The port of Apapa in Lagos, Nigeria handles up to 25 million tons of cargo per year. Editorial credit: Druid007 /

Africa has 38 countries with a coastline and numerous ports located strategically along their coastlines. With more than 90% of Africa’s global trade conducted by sea, the busiest ports in Africa play a major role to the continent. There has been a lot of innovation and development in the maritime field, and more ports continue to increase their TEUs. Africa’s ports handle about 6 percent of the global water-borne traffic and approximately 3% of the world container traffic.

Busiest Ports in Africa

Saldanha Bay

The port of Saldanha Bay is the busiest port in South Africa and the continent. It is located on the western coast of South Africa and is regarded as the deepest harbor in the southern hemisphere. The bay is protected by an artificial water breaker that stretches 3.1km. it was first discovered in 1601 by Dutch explorer, Van Spilbergen and was more suitable as the main port as opposed to Cape Town. Today, the port handles iron ore and has an annual cargo volume of 72 million tons.


Damietta port in Egypt is the second busiest port in the continent. It is located 8.5 km west of the River Nile of Damietta branch. The port and its facilities occupy an area of 11.8 square kilometers. The port has a modern container terminal for handling various types of cargo. Damietta port handles 27 million tons of cargo volume each year.

East Port Said Port

The port is strategically located along the coast of Mediterranean Sea and on the northern side of the Suez Canal. It covers a length of 9.5 km and has an estimated depth of 18.5m. East Port Said Port facilitates the passage of shipping vessels to and from the harbor. This, therefore, allows the free flow of the Suez Canal convoys.


The port of Apapa is in the Nigerian city of Lagos. It is an economic focal point as it handles up to 25 million tons of cargo per year. Various operations are carried out within the port facilities such as stacking, berthing, cargo-handling, and storage. The Apapa port is the main port in the island of Lagos and is focused mainly on handling containers.


The port of Casablanca is the largest port in Morocco and one of the largest artificial ports in the world. The port handles about 38% of all the cargo traffic in Morocco. It can accommodate up to 35 ships at the same time. The port trades an estimated cargo volume of 24 million tons each year. it also has the capacity to hold more than 3.5 million containers in its 605 hectares of land.


The port of Mombasa is the busiest and largest port in East and Central Africa. It is situated on the southern coast of Kenya. It is directly linked to more than 80 ports worldwide. The port’s container terminal has a capacity of more than 1 million TEUs and advanced port facilities for discharge and loading of vessels. It handles more than 21 million tons of cargo per year.

Economic Impacts

The busiest ports in Africa are important focal points to the economy of their countries and neighboring regions. Most ports in Africa are using the latest facilities and technologies in cargo handling operations. Respective governments and stakeholders are continually investing to expand the port facilities.

The Busiest Cargo Ports in Africa

RankPortCountryTotal Cargo Volume (Tons, 000s)
1Saldanha BaySouth Africa72,001
3East Port Said PortEgypt26,304
7Pointe NoireCongo21,956
9AbidjanIvory Coast21,714
12Jorf LasfarMorocco18,642
13Tin Can IslandNigeria15,371

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