One factor in the contraction in Cameroon’s EU exports, which started in 2016, cited by a number of EU importers, was the continuing deterioration of operations at the port of Douala, the key timber trade export hub for much of Central and West Africa.
The government has now appointed a commission to investigate the ‘failed operations’ at the facility. But importers don’t expect rapid improvement to the rate of throughput and reductions in backlogs at the port any time soon.
“It’s a combination of poor management, old and unreliable equipment and silting up of access channels, which means that larger, deep-draft vessels can’t dock,” said an continental EU importer. “Some shippers are exploring the possibility of using the new, Chinesefunded, deep-water port at Kribi, but this still has teething problems, and the only other real alternative is Pointe Noire in the Republic of Congo.”
According to latest reports the backlog of timber for shipment to China alone at Douala has now reached 60,000cu.m.