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The Lloyd’s List Podcast: Why Africa should be higher up shipping’s investment agenda

Listen to the latest edition of Lloyd’s List’s weekly podcast — your free weekly briefing on the stories shaping shipping

The potential of Africa’s booming demographics are clear, but shipping has focused more on the risk than the rewards in recent years. That could be about to change with the US is increasingly looking like it wants to pivot to Africa and significant developments across several countries warranting a more optimistic looking at the near-term growth opportunities for maritime trade. Podcast regular Mark Williams, managing director of Shipping Strategy joins Lloyd’s List Editor Richard Meade this week to discuss the opportunities.


BY 2050, Africa’s 1.1 billion person population is slated to double, with 80% of this growth happening in cities.

By 2025 more than 100 cities in Africa will contain more than a million people.

With this breakneck pace of urbanisation comes many unprecedented economic opportunities and with it a renewed interest for shipping following the trade.

But Africa’s potential is hardly new news — China has been pumping investment into African infrastructure for years under the One Belt, One Road initiative and despite periodic enthusiasm from port operators trying to ensure they get their foothold in the inevitable emerging markets, Africa is still seen as a risk to be managed for the long-term rather than a near-term tangible revenue driver.

But could that be finally changing?

The exit of Donald Trump and President Joe Biden’s initial enthusiasm to re-engage in multilateral institutions is worth noting.

The US is increasingly looking like it wants to pivot to Africa — Biden wans to strike up free trade with African states and the US sees Africa as a place where they will strategically compete with China.

Africa becoming a place of strategic competition changes the game when it comes to trade and, for shipping, the mid-term opportunities might just be about to become more interesting.

So with that in mind, we invited podcast regular Mark Williams, managing director of Shipping Strategy, to offer us a few thoughts on why Africa needs to be higher up the industry’s agenda right now.

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