The Port of Antwerp, Belgium, has announced plans to set up training for Gambian dock workers in collaboration with Antwerp Maritime Training Centre (APEC).
The Port of Antwerp has already trained around130 port professionals from Banjul in Antwerp, through its specialist institute (APEC) that has been training maritime professionals from all over the world since 1977.
“My Government is committed to the continuous development of the Port of Banjul to transform the Gambia into a centre of excellence for sub regional trade and distribution, value added and re-export activities,” President Adama Barrow said, during a signing ceremony at the port of Antwerp last Thursday.
The agreement was between the Port of Antwerp International (PAI), which is also the consultancy and investment subsidiary of Antwerp Port Authority, its maritime training centre (APEC), and The Gambia Ports Authority.
The collaboration will mainly take the form of training and consulting for Gambian sea port professionals, considering the leading role that the port of Antwerp plays in West Africa.
Abdoulie Tambedou, managing director of Gambia Ports Authority, and Kristof Waterschoot, CEO of the Port of Antwerp, signed the agreement on behalf their various institutions.
As part of the agreement, the port of Antwerp will play an advisory role while the two sides will examine how the ports can collaborate even more closely in the future.
The port of Antwerp, where the synergy between maritime, logistics and industrial activities create a unique platform, is an inspiring example for the port of Banjul.
“We are most impressed with Antwerp and so we are very pleased with this collaboration agreement that will allow us to call upon its expertise. We look towards the future with great confidence,” Mr Tambedou stated.
Marc Van Peel, Port alderman, who is also chairman of the Port of Antwerp International (PAI), said out of all the ports in North-West Europe, Antwerp has the highest number of direct services to West Africa, resulting in a market share of nearly 50%.
He added: “West Africa is a very important region for us, and it is our ambition to further strengthen our position there,” he said.
The Gambia’s socio economic well-being hinges on developments in international trade. It is therefore essential that Gambia’s major trade gateways, that is, the seaport, airport and telecommunications systems are developed and sustained to efficiently compete in the West African sub region.
President Barrow said there is a need to leverage on this cooperation with the Port of Antwerp International for the capacity improvement projects identified under the Port of Banjul Master Plan.