Cotonou calls upon know-how Port of Antwerp to prepare for sustainable future

Cotonou calls upon know-how Port of Antwerp to prepare for sustainable future

The Antwerp port community and its various partners are currently on a trade mission to West-Africa, including Benin and Nigeria. Today, the delegation visited the port of Cotonou. Since 2018, Cotonou port authority is calling upon the expertise of Antwerp in order to modernise the port and make it futureproof. For the Port of Antwerp the mission represents a way to maintain and further strengthen its position as market leader in West Africa.

Port of Antwerp: market leader in West Africa

The port of Antwerp is known in Africa as the maritime centre of Europe, thanks to the numerous supply chain connections. The synergy between maritime, logistics and industrial activities creates a unique platform. 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%. The annual volume of West African freight amounts to 15 million tonnes. All trends and indicators show that this share in the statistics will continue to grow in the coming years.

Cotonou: in transition towards a futureproof port

The port of Cotonou has a strategic importance in the region, as it is also one of the main gateway ports for the sub-region, in particular the countries of Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali.  The port is the economic heart of Benin, handling an annual freight volume of around 11 million tonnes. To further expand and strengthen this position, the government decided in 2018 to temporarily outsource the management of the port, so that a reformed and modernised port authority could fully compete with the surrounding ports. Therefore the Benin government called upon the expertise of the Port of Antwerp and appointed Port of Antwerp International (PAI), the consultancy and investment subsidiary of Port of Antwerp. The main task of PAI is to modernise the port authority in organisational terms, renovate the obsolescent facilities and prepare for and guide the expansion of the port. In addition, several  port professionals from Cotonou have come over to Antwerp for tailor-made trainings by APEC. This training centre of the port of Antwerp organises training courses for maritime personnel worldwide in view of maximising the efficiency of port operations.

Port seminar and networking

Apart from the visit to the Cotonou port, the participants of the mission, among whom representatives of the Port of Antwerp and different shipping companies, terminal operators and forwarders, will among other things attend a port seminar and different networking events for the benefit of the Antwerp entrepreneurs.

Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO Port of Antwerp: “Our role as community builder goes further than our local port community. With our subsidiary PAI we aim to pass on our know-how and experience so as to further develop the worldwide network of our own port and to engage in a sustainable future for African ports. Our collaboration with Cotonou is a perfect example of this. It is our ambition to further strengthen our position in West-Africa, which is one of the reasons for this mission to Benin and Nigeria. We hope that this mission will create new fruitful contacts, new connections and new business opportunities in order to ensure further growth for years to come."
Joris Thys, CEO Port Autonome de Cotonou: “Our ambition is to make the Port of Cotonou an innovative, secure and reliable logistics platform for international trade and ensure efficient management for sustainable socio-economic development in Benin and the sub-region. Thanks to the support of the Port of Antwerp, we have already taken concrete steps towards the modernisation of our port, like the upgrade of our infrastructure and procedures and the training of our maritime personnel.  Other measures towards digitalisation and renovation are planned in the near future.  De petits pas pour de grands changements.“

Press contact Port Autonome de Cotonou:

Bernardin Aligbonon

00229 90 73 88 32




About Port of Antwerp

As Europe's second-largest port, the Port of Antwerp is a major lifeline for the Belgian economy: more than 300 line services to over 800 destinations ensure global connectivity. The Port of Antwerp annually handles around 231 million tonnes of international maritime freight, and is home to Europe's largest integrated chemical cluster. The Port of Antwerp accounts, directly and indirectly, for a total of around 143.000 jobs and more than €20 billion added value.  

True to its mission 'a home port vital for a sustainable future’, Antwerp Port Authority aims to flexibly respond to a rapidly evolving maritime market, allowing the port to continue playing its role as a leading world port. The emphasis in this respect is on cooperation, adaptability, a strong focus on innovation and digitisation, and on sustainable added value, as well as on responsibility towards society. 

Antwerp Port Authority is a limited liability company of public law, with the City of Antwerp as sole shareholder. It employs over 1.600 people. Port alderman Annick De Ridder is chairman of the Board of Directors and Jacques Vandermeiren is CEO and President of the Executive Committee, which is responsible for the day-to-day management.  

The telephone number +32 492 15 41 39 is only for press inquiries. For other questions you can mail to

Port of Antwerp
Zaha Hadidplein 1
2030 Antwerp