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The Maritime Giants of Africa Largest Shipping Companies



Maritime Giants of Africa

As a continent blessed with extensive coastlines and strategically positioned along major global maritime routes, Africa is a vibrant hub for sea shipping companies. Here, we dive into ten of the most influential maritime shipping firms across different African nations.

Maritime Shipping Explained

Maritime shipping, in simple terms, is like the world’s moving warehouse, but over the sea. It’s all about transporting goods from one place to another using ships to do the heavy lifting.

Normally maritime shipping is an ideal choice when transporting goods in very large quantities The items most transported over maritime shipping include the following:

  • Oil and Gas:

Petroleum products are one of the most commonly shipped goods by volume. This includes crude oil, refined petroleum, natural gas, and chemical products.

  • Containers:

The contents of container ships can vary wildly, but they often carry consumer goods, including electronics, clothing, furniture, and toys.

  • Dry Bulk:

This refers to goods like coal, grain (such as wheat, corn, and soybeans), iron ore, and other minerals. These are often transported in large, carrier ships.

  • Food Items:

Perishable food items, like fruits, vegetables, and meats are often transported in refrigerated containers known as “reefers.”

  • Automobiles:

Cars, trucks, and other vehicles are often shipped using specialized roll-on/roll-off ships.

Largest By Maritime Shipping Company’s Vessel Count Worldwide

Lets start by looking at the number of vessels as an indicator of the scale of each maritime shipping company

  1. APM-Maersk: 740 vessels
  2. MSC: 721 vessels
  3. CMA-CGM: 600 vessels
  4. Hapag-Lloyd: 250 vessels
  5. Evergreen Line: 211 vessels
  6. One: 205 vessels
  7. COSCO – China Ocean Shipping Company: 180 vessels
  8. Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd: 139 vessels
  9. Yang Ming Marine Transport: 94 vessels
  10. Hyundai Merchant Marine: 74 vessels

We will use this list as a base line or starting point, to determine the largest maritime shipping companies which currently operate in different African countries.
To rank as accurately as possible, we will consider the following three factors to determine which maritime shipping company is the largest in each region.

  1. The total number of maritime vessels owned by the shipping company.
  2. The total number of countries each operates in.
  3. Most importantly which maritime shipping company has the most grounded and active presence in each African country.

Largest Maritime Shipping companies in Africa per Country

1. Egypt – MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company

With 721 vessels to its name, the MSC is Egypt’s largest marine shipping company. The Mediterranean Shipping Company, as it is officially known, was founded in Naples, Italy, in 1970 and is now the world’s second-largest shipping line in terms of container vessel capacity. The company has a significant presence in Egypt, with major operations in the Port of Alexandria, a critical hub for Mediterranean and Middle East shipping.

Local Contact information:

  • Address: 55 ش السلطان، حسين، الشلالات, Alexandria Governorate, Egypt.
  • Phone: +20 3 4884000

2. South Africa – Maersk Line

Denmark’s A.P. Møller – Mærsk A/S, better known as Maersk, holds the title of the most significant shipping operator in South Africa, with a total of 740 vessels. Established in 1904, Maersk is the world’s largest container shipping company. It is known for its extensive global reach and substantial presence in South Africa, with the Port of Durban serving as one of its critical operational centres.

Local Contact information:

  • Address: 52 Corlett Dr, Illovo, Sandton, 2196
  • Phone: 011 277 3700

3. Morocco – CMA-CGM

France’s CMA-CGM, with 600 vessels, is the most prominent player in Morocco’s marine shipping industry. Founded in Marseille in 1978, CMA-CGM operates in more than 160 countries, including Morocco. The company has significant operations in the Port of Casablanca, one of the largest artificial ports in the world, and Morocco’s main port.

Local Contact information:

  • Address: C9H5+XPV, Agadir 80000, Morocco
  • Phone: +212 5283-89838

4. Algeria – CMA GGM Algeria

CMA CGM Algeria, with its extensive fleet of vessels, is a significant player in the Algerian marine shipping industry. Established in 1970, it maintains global operations and has a substantial presence in Algeria. CMA CGM Algeria utilizes the Port of Algiers, a crucial port that serves as the primary hub for the country’s imports and exports.

Local Contact information:

  • Address: CMA CGM, Quartier des Affaires, Tour, Bab Ezzouar, Algeria.
  • Phone: +213 23 92 42 67

5. Ghana – MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company

The Mediterranean Shipping Company, boasting a fleet of 721 ships, is a pivotal actor in Ghana’s maritime sector. The Swiss-based firm maintains a comprehensive global network and holds a considerable presence in Ghana, especially at the Port of Tema, one of the busiest ports in Africa.

Local Contact information:

  • Address: Tema, Ghana
  • Phone: +213 23 92 42 67

6. Kenya – Morgan Cargo Logistics

Morgan Cargo Logistics, is a key stakeholder in Kenya’s marine shipping landscape. Established in 1969, Morgan Cargo Logistics is globally acknowledged as a provider of top-tier container transport and logistics services. The company has a significant operational base in the Port of Mombasa, East Africa’s largest port.

Local contact information:

  • Address: Nairobi, Kenya
  • Phone: +254 20 827236

7. Nigeria – COSCO – China Ocean Shipping Company

COSCO, with 180 vessels, is the largest marine shipping company in Nigeria. This Chinese state-owned enterprise has a vast network around the world and has considerable operations in Nigeria, particularly in the Port of Lagos, one of Africa’s busiest ports.

Local contact information:

Address: 4 Balogun Bisi Omidiora Road Apapa Lagos Nigeria
Phone: +234 815 979 4404–615/616


MISTRAL SHIPPING TUNISIA, with its significant fleet, plays a crucial role in Tunisia’s shipping industry. MISTRAL’s extensive network reaches numerous countries and is recognized for its substantial operations in the Port of Rades, Tunisia’s main port.

Local Contact information:

  • Address: ZONE PORTUAIRE DE, Rades 2040, Tunisia
  • Phone: +216 71 448 002

9. Angola – Maersk Angola

“Maersk Angola, with its fleet of 740 vessels, holds a substantial position in Angola’s maritime industry. This Denmark-based corporation operates in more than 70 nations, and Angola is a key part of its global network. The majority of its operations are carried out from the Port of Luanda, which is Angola’s primary seaport.

Local Contact information:

  • Address: 56RQ+9QV, Luanda, Angola
  • Phone: +244 222 396 709

10. Tanzania – MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company

With a robust fleet of 721 vessels, the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has a significant foothold in Tanzania’s maritime sector. This globally recognised logistics giant runs comprehensive operations in the bustling Port of Dar es Salaam, one of the busiest ports in East Africa.

Local Contact information:

  • Address: Uhamiaji Road – Kurasini Dar es Salaam, 63039, Tanzania.
  • Phone: +255 22 285 1661


These companies represent the crème de la crème of Africa’s maritime industry, contributing significantly to local employment opportunities and strengthening intercontinental trade ties. Their extensive operations underscore the importance of Africa in the global maritime trade network.

Each of these maritime giants plays a crucial role in the African shipping industry’s growth and development, providing numerous local employment opportunities and facilitating crucial trade relationships. Their global operations further emphasise the pivotal role that Africa plays in the international maritime trade landscape.

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Air vs. Maritime Freight Transportation




Plane flying over cargo ships

Among the popular forms of transport within the freight industry, two of them are seen as extremely efficient with regard to transporting goods over long distances. These forms of transport go by the name of air and maritime freight transportation. Even though they’re very different, they can work really well together, as we’ll explore later on in this article.

Table of Contents

In this article, we’ll be looking at:

What is Air Freight Transportation?

Plane in front of cargo ships with another plane flying over

Air freight transportation, often referred to as air cargo, is the expedited movement of goods via aircraft. This mode of transportation is favoured for its speed and reliability, making it the essential choice for businesses dealing with time-sensitive cargo.

How Air Freight Transportation Works

The process of air freight transportation involves the following key steps:

Step 1: Cargo Acceptance

Businesses deliver their goods to an airport cargo terminal, where the items are inspected, documented, and prepared for flight.

Step 2: Loading and Transport

Once cleared for departure, cargo is loaded onto aircraft, ranging from small cargo planes to jumbo jets, depending on the volume and nature of the goods.

Step 3: Air Transit

The cargo is flown to its destination airport, where it is unloaded and cleared through customs.

Step 4: Final Delivery

After customs clearance, the cargo is transported to its final destination, often by ground transportation.

The Top 4 Benefits of Air Freight Transportation

There are a couple of reasons why people continue to invest in the air freight industry. Below is a list of some of the benefits of air freight transportation.

1.     Speed:

Air freight is unparalleled when it comes to delivering goods quickly. It significantly reduces transit times, making it an ideal choice for perishable or time-sensitive cargo.

2.     Reliability:

Air cargo schedules are highly predictable, thanks to the frequent and regular flight services offered by airlines.

3.     Global Reach:

Air freight connects virtually every corner of the globe, enabling businesses to access international markets with ease.

4.     Enhanced Security:

Airports have stringent security measures in place, reducing the risk of theft and damage to cargo.

What is Maritime Freight Transportation?

Maritime freight transportation, commonly known as sea freight, involves the shipment of goods via cargo vessels across oceans and seas. This method is renowned for its cost-effectiveness, particularly for bulk and non-perishable cargo.

How Maritime Freight Transportation Works

The maritime freight transportation process encompasses several stages:

Stage 1: Cargo Loading

Cargo is packed into shipping containers at the origin port and loaded onto cargo vessels.

Stage 2: Voyage

The cargo vessel embarks on its journey across the sea, navigating established maritime routes.

Stage 3: Port Unloading

Upon reaching the destination port, cargo containers are unloaded, and customs clearance procedures are initiated.

Stage 4: Onward Transport

Goods are transported from the port to their final destination, typically by road or rail.

The Top 4 Advantages of Maritime Freight Transportation

The maritime freight industry has its challenges that need to be addressed continuously, but there are a couple of reasons why it hasn’t disappeared.

1.     Cost Efficiency

Sea freight is often more economical for large or bulky cargo due to its lower shipping rates.

2.     Eco-Friendly

Maritime transportation is comparatively eco-friendly, with lower carbon emissions per ton of cargo transported.

3.     High Capacity

Cargo vessels have immense capacity, making them suitable for transporting vast quantities of goods.

4.     Versatility

Sea freight can handle a wide range of cargo types, from consumer goods to heavy machinery.

How They Can Work Together

In an increasingly interconnected world, businesses often find that combining air and maritime freight can be a winning strategy. Air freight ensures the swift delivery of time-sensitive components or products, while sea freight handles larger volumes of goods more economically. This harmonious partnership can help optimise supply chains and reduce overall transportation costs.

FAQ: Clearing the Air and Water

If we haven’t answered some of the questions you had in mind, have a look at the frequently asked questions below:

Is air freight more expensive than sea freight?

Yes, air freight is generally more expensive per kilogram or cubic meter of cargo due to the speed and reliability it offers.

Can fragile items be shipped via sea freight?

Yes, fragile items can be shipped via sea freight by using proper packaging and stowage techniques to minimise the risk of damage during transit.

How long does sea freight take compared to air freight?

Sea freight takes longer, often several weeks, whereas air freight can transport goods across continents in a matter of days.

Final Thoughts

In the world of freight transportation, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The choice between air and maritime freight depends on various factors, including the nature of the cargo, budget constraints, and delivery timelines.

By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each mode and considering the possibility of combining them strategically, businesses can navigate the global supply chain with confidence, delivering their goods efficiently and profitably to markets around the world.

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AI in the Maritime Freight Industry




Ship carrying shipping containers on the ocean

Technology is continuing to revolutionise industries and the maritime freight industry, one of the popular forms of freight transportation in South Africa, isn’t an exception. The industry is on the brink of another transformation with the potential of integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into the industry.

AI promises to bring some exciting new benefits to the harbour, although we shouldn’t expect the implementation of AI to be smooth sailing, as it comes with its challenges as well.

Table of Contents

In this article, we’ll be exploring:

Let’s set sail.

The Benefits of AI in the Maritime Freight Industry

There are many reasons why people are so excited about AI joining the maritime freight industry at the shore. Below is a list of the most significant.

1. Enhanced Operational Efficiency

The maritime freight industry can get very complicated given that there are so many moving parts. Any opportunity where technology can help simplify the process is welcome, and AI could do just that.

One great example of this is predictive analytics. This allows shipping companies to optimise routes and fuel consumption based on issues like bad weather in real-time. This reduces cost and minimises the overall environmental impact of the industry.

2. Improved Safety

Concerning maritime freight transportation, safety is of utmost importance. Artificial intelligence has the ability to identify potential safety hazards in real time. Hazards such as weather anomalies can be detected, enabling swift responses and reducing the likelihood of accidents at sea.

3. Enhanced Cargo Tracking

With the help of AI, real-time visibility into cargo shipments is possible. You, as a customer, will be able to monitor the status and location of their goods from the harbour right to your doorstep. You’ll know exactly where your product is at all times.

The Challenges of AI in the Maritime Freight Industry

Nothing’s perfect, and the maritime freight industry is no exception. It comes with its fair share of challenges, some of which are listed below.

1. High Initial Investment

A huge issue with implementing technology into the maritime industry is the hefty upfront costs. Smaller organisations may get discouraged because of this, although the implementation of AI may be more cost-effective over the long term.

2. Data Quality and Security

Artificial intelligence relies heavily, if not entirely on data. Making sure that the data is accurate, secure and private is a constant challenge organisations have to deal with. Any data breach can result in severe consequences for both organisations and individuals.

3. Workforce Adaptation

One of the biggest concerns with regard to the integration of AI is how employees would have to adapt. Organisations will have to train their employees to use their newly integrated AI systems which my add more to the initial cost of the implementation. Employees may also resist the change from the traditional system, a system that they’re very familiar with.

Final Thoughts

AI is in a position to completely change the maritime freight industry. Let’s not forget about the challenges we’ll need to overcome to successfully make that happen. Getting excited over benefits such as enhanced operational efficiency is great, but finding ways we could mitigate the challenges as well is equally important. If we can do that, we’re on our way to a more safe and efficient maritime freight industry.

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The Top 3 Challenges of Maritime Freight Transportation




Cargo ship infographic

With the focus on the other forms of freight transportation, maritime is often out of the limelight. It’s easy to forget about the importance of the industry because of that. It has got a larger impact on the role of transporting goods around the world than many people would think.

Table of Contents

In this article, we’ll be looking at:

What is the Maritime Freight Industry?

The Maritime Freight is one of the very popular ways to transport goods over long distances. Unlike the air freight industry where goods are transported through the air, the maritime freight industry transports goods via sea routes.

There’s a large variety of vehicles that are involved within the industry. From huge container ships to specialised carriers for bulk cargo, oil and fuel. Manufacturers, suppliers, and consumers across the world are connected by the maritime freight industry which enables the movement of consumer goods and raw materials.

The Benefits of the Maritime Freight Industry

Maritime freight is usually overlooked, but there are reasons it hasn’t gone anywhere. Below is a list of some of the benefits of the maritime freight industry.

1. Efficient and Cost-Effective Transportation

To the surprise of many people, maritime freight transportation tends to be more efficient and cost-effective. The large cargo vessels give you the ability to carry huge quantities of goods at a lower cost per unit than other modes of transportation.

2. Environmental Efficiency

We are in an era that is very environmentally conscious. Cargo ships today are designed to be more fuel-efficient than ever before. They emit fewer pollutants per ton of cargo that is transported compared to air and road transport.

3. Global Connectivity and Trade

The maritime freight industry doesn’t get enough praise even after it has connected countries to other nations, and not only encouraged economic cooperation but did so on a global scale. It has also enabled access to a large number of products worldwide encouraging cultural exchange.

Goods aren’t the only things that can be exchanged. Resources, ideas and technologies can be exchanged too, benefitting both organisations involved.

The Challenges of the Maritime Freight Industry

Of course, nothing is perfect and the maritime freight industry is no exception as the four points below indicate.

1. Infrastructure Strain and Congestion

Global trade isn’t slowing down anytime soon. As a matter of fact, it’s still growing. This means that the need for new infrastructure to support the industry is also growing. Traffic or congestion is still a thing, even in the maritime industry due to the increasing volume of cargo. The result? Delays and increased cost of business.

2. Environmental and Sustainability Concerns

Regardless of the fact the industry has made an effort to reduce emissions, it still gets a fair amount of criticism for its impact on the environment, given that the ocean is now a part of the equation.

Regulations are getting more and more strict in order to make the industry more environmentally friendly. Ensuring that the negative impact on the environment is limited, as well as making sure the transport is efficient is a continuous challenge.

3. Safety and Security Risks

The safety and security of the cargo, vehicles and the staff involved in the industry is extremely important. Being vigilant at sea or at ports will help avoid issues such as piracy, theft, and accidents, ensuring the safety of the crew members and the cargo itself. To combat these issues, industry stakeholders must invest in robust security measures.

Final Thoughts

There’s no doubt that the maritime industry has made our lives easier. However, it’s important to tackle the challenges as they arise to ensure we continue to develop the industry. With technology on the rise, it’s interesting to see where the implementation of technologies, such as AI, could take us.

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