The African market enjoys great interest from the government and exporters due to its promising export opportunities, though it is facing a difficult transport problem and a lack of direct shipping lines..
Shipping companies urged the need to identify the African countries of interest in the coming period, next to having direct support for transportation to encourage shipping lines to work with Egyptian products until quantities increase.
Chairperson of Omega Shipping, Fayez Diab, said that Egyptian products are being shipped to the African markets through four shipping lines, such as Maersk, but further development is needed.
He pointed out that the volume of Egyptian exports to the African market is still weak despite the interest of the state in recent years in the continent, as the small quantities are still unattractive to shipping lines.
Diab attributed the weakness of the volume of Egyptian exports to the markets of Africa, or the weak demand for export to it, to the high shipping costs compared to other markets—despite the proximity. “Shipping to Africa is three times more expensive than shipping to Europe,” he added.
The cost of shipping to European markets ranges from $1,300-1,800 for eight to 20 days of shipping, while fees for shipping to Africa range between $4,000 and $7,000 for a 30-day trip, which could even take up to 50 days.
Diab stressed the need for regular coordination between exporters and shipping companies to know their requirements to open new markets
He pointed out that the Agriculture Export Council should identify the African markets targeted, and the competitive advantage of Egyptian products in those markets, since the shipping lines do not cover all countries of the continent.
Meanwhile, chairperson of USCO Log, Ahmed Madih, said that the problem facing the increase of exports to Africa is the lack of commercial agreements between Egypt and these countries that enable exporting Egyptian crops in high quantities, despite the ability of shipping lines to secure refrigeration spaces on ships to maintain the quality of production.
He added that the competing products of Spain and Morocco find it difficult to expand in the African market, which opens the door to Egyptian companies to gain a larger market share in those markets.
Mohamed Eissa, reefer manager at Arkas Holding, urged the need to focus on marketing Egyptian agricultural crops in new markets and target new African markets that can be served from Egyptian ports. “As exports to these markets increase, shipping lines will improve their services and develop the internal transport services of the landlocked countries,” he added.
He pointed out that the Arkas line has launched the first navigation service to the Russian market, after demand for agricultural products increased. The line has been operative since 2007 from the port of Novorossiysk with two vessels per week from Dekhila and Damietta ports.
The Arkas line provides regular and distinctive navigation services between the ports of Egypt and the ports of the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, and Africa, with more than 10 years of success within the Egyptian market.
He called for increasing the exports of Egyptian agricultural crops by marketing new agricultural products in the current world markets, such as Russia and others.
He stressed that the Egyptian agricultural exports to Russia are growing every season, growing by 30% last season.
This growing demand is expected to continue this season, especially with the World Cup being held in Russia.