Ports are important drivers for the economies of African countries. To improve port management in countries like Ghana and Tanzania a program was set up to share best practices from European port managers with their African peers.
The program, initiated by UN organisation UNCTAD, enables port managers to train staff of their own organisation and of other companies at their local ports. The TrainForTrade Port Training Programme is really taking off now, says John Moore, Director at the Dublin Port Company, which supports the programme with financial resources and the knowledge and expertise of its managers.
Ports all over the world have to comply to standards in safety and environmental management. “They face radical changes in information systems, cargo handling, commercial practices, privatisation and restructured shipping services and substantial potential traffic growth through globalization. Countries which are unable to cope with these rapidly changing realities, will find that they are not in a position to foster the development of their trade sector.”
Intensive six-week programme
To deal with the challenges, senior managers of port companies in different African countries follow an intensive six-week training programme in Dublin. “Managers from Dublin and other ports shared their experience in areas such as dealing with competition, training port workers, health and safety, environmental protection and methods and tools for modern management.”
John Moore’s trips to Ghana, Tanzania and Djibouti are becoming less frequent, he says, and that’s good news. “The program has entered the next phase. After the intensive training effort of African port managers in Dublin, we now see them spreading the knowledge. Not only among their own staff, but also among local shipping and cargo handling companies. Initially we supervise and take part in all local training sessions, but after a while we can substantially reduce the level of support. That’s the great thing about this TrainForTrade Port Training Programme: it becomes self-sustainable. The program brings forth local experts, who are familiar with the course material and method of delivery and they become expert trainers in their own right for the harbour region and even other ports in Africa.” There is also a major e-learning platform to enable participants to study at a time that suits their own work/life balance.
Interest from other African ports
The program was initiated by the UN organisation UNCTAD to help ports increase efficiencies, reduce costs and encourage co-operation, thereby generating more trade. The project is doing so well that it has sparked further interest from other African ports in countries like Nigeria, Namibia and the Seychelles. The program has several language networks for French, Portuguese Spanish and English speaking countries in Africa and Asia. The Dublin Port Company is an important contributor to the English speaking network. The program is funded by Irish Aid, the Dublin Port Company and by contributions from the African ports.
Now that the first group of port managers from Tanzania and Ghana are actively developing and spreading local knowledge, it is time for port managers from other port companies to follow their footsteps: to follow a six week training program that give them the tools to introduce the new knowledge and skills in their own country.
Sustainability is invaluable
The sustainability of the program is invaluable. “The managers that we trained in several countries, are now forming their own network, sharing their experiences and helping other ports in the network with their problems. For example, a marketing manager in the port of Dar-es Salaam can go to Accra to offer his new knowledge in marketing, while the Harbour Master in Accra might go to Dar-es Salaam to deliver training sessions about harbour operations. The UN sees this part of the programme as essential as it encourages trade and co-operation between countries, resulting in them becoming self-sustaining in their own region.”