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Export Infrastructure for East Africa’s Landlocked Nations

Posted by | April 24, 2014 | Africa recruitment agency

the coastal states of Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique border on nine of Africa’s 16 landlocked countries. With the external trade of so many states concentrated through so few, this littoral stretch has long represented a concentration of culture and economic activity, clearly evident in what is known as the Swahili Coast. With these economies now showing near-universal growth, and East Africa representing the most natural shipping gateway to the mineral-hungry Asian markets, competition between its ports is intensifying.

East Africa’s ports infrastructure is a fraction of what it could be. The 15 states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are home to six ports capable of handling over 300,000 twenty-foot containers (TEU) per year. The five coastal countries stretching from Djibouti to Mozambique and all the landlocked countries they could potentially serve are home to just three. “When it comes to mining for all of the land-locked countries, the ports are the biggest bottleneck,” said Deanne De Vries, vice president for Africa at Agility Logistics.

Yet the past few years have seen the announcement of transportation infrastructure investments that overshadow those of any other global region. $17 billion of transportation projects are in the pipeline in Mozambique. Kenya’s Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor is forecast to cost $25.5 billion, in addition to upgrades at Mombasa Port and a $13 billion regional railway project. Tanzania has proposed ports and transport corridors representing investments of over $40 billion, in addition to upgrades at Dar es Salaam Port and elsewhere.

These investments are good news for companies operating in the region: especially the mining sector, in which the viability of a mine can often depend on its export routes. Yet they are also leading to a shift in regional trade routes that companies should be aware of. With South Africa, home to the continent’s largest and busiest port Durban, anchoring the southern end of Africa’s eastern seaboard Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique are looking to increase market share from their western and southern neighbours, bring them into competition with each other.

Mozambique Seeks Botswana’s Coal

In Mozambique the government has invited bids for a $2 billion 525 km railway that will link the coal fields of the Moatize Basin to a new port at Macuse and announced plans for a new $7 billion deepwater port at Technobanine. Expansion work is also underway in the ports of Maputo, Beira and Nacala, the three largest of Mozambique’s seven main seaports.

In addition to increasing physical infrastructure, strong efforts are being made to increase efficiency. In partnership with its port operators, Mozambique has implemented Janela Único Electrónica (JUE), an online, electronic port processing system. “The establishment of the JUE has lead to at least a 50% improvement in efficiency at the ports. The system as a whole has now stabilised, it increases the speed which documentation is finished therefore speeding up the whole system. All three major ports in Mozambique can now be considered efficient and much credit should go to the operators DP World, MPDC, Cornelder and Portos do Norte. However, since the recent unrest companies have been reluctant to transport goods by road and we have seen some backlog at the ports as a result. Particularly in the case of Beira, which acts as the transit port for Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe and, to a lesser extent, Botswana. In general the ports system in Mozambique has improved vastly over the past year,” explained Karen de Almeida, general manager – finance and administration for UTi.

Mozambique has much work to do before its infrastructure is global best practice standards. Container dwell time at its ports still average far higher than those of its northern peers; let alone South Africa. Upgrades on the Sena line, connecting the Tete province to the Beira seaport, will increase capacity from 3 million mt/y to 6.5 million mt/y, yet this more-than-doubling still falls well below the total capacity of the Tete province, which at maturity is estimated will reach 100 million mt/y. The African Union, in a study done for the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa, estimated that even with currently planned port and terminal expansion, Mozambique will still suffer from short-term port container capacity gaps by 2020.

These worries have not stopped Mozambique seeking to serve as the trade route for their neighbouring countries in the region. Its Nacala Railroad, being expanded by Vale, connects to the Central East African Railway of Malawi. The Beira Railroad connects to Harare in Zimbabwe and the Maputo Railroad connects to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Swaziland.

One of the largest competitions being played out at the moment is for the coal of Botswana. In August the Mozambican Minister of Mineral Resources invited his Batswana counterpart and the Batswana Minister of Transport and Communications to discuss the export of coal and acquisition of fuel through Mozambique. “Evaluations are currently being made to decide if existing railway lines between Mozambique and Botswana should be refurbished, which would better connect the country to the ports of Maputo and Matola,” explains the Honourable Onkokame Kitso Mokaila, Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources of the Republic of Botswana.

Yet Walvis Bay of Namibia is also hoping to secure Botswana trade, as well as that of other landlocked countries, and can at the moment boast shorter transit times. “As a relatively new port, we cannot compete on volumes with Durban at this stage but we can reduce the cost of doing business in southern Africa. Walvis Bay has five competitive advantages: Namibia is safe, it is secure, is it easy to do business in, our transit times are much better than the rest of southern Africa, and we are efficient along the complete corridor” suggest Johny Smith, CEO of the Walvis Bay Corridor Group. “Namibia has a coastline of 1,500 km and Walvis Bay is very strategically located. Walvis Bay can cover southern Angola, Zambia, southern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Zimbabwe, Botswana, and also parts of South Africa.”

While the need to support its own mining industry will restrict, though not stop, Mozambique’s regional transport corridor ambitions in the medium-term, they will nonetheless also restrict any attempt by Tanzania to increase its regional influence southward. Like Mozambique, Tanzania is not free from port problems. “There are long delays at the Port of Dar es Salaam, which we know the authorities are working hard to rectify. In the meantime Minesite Tanzania is using the Port of Mombasa to ensure zero loss of production and downtime for our end users,” said Damien Valente, country manager for Minesite Tanzania, a mining service provider based out gold-mining hotbed Mwanza.

Inner Top Interview do's and don'ts

The Do’s

  • Do ensure that you have the chronology of your career from leaving High School to your current role.  If you have gaps in your career then state the dates and the situation. We understand that things happen in people’s lives over which they have no control (and if you chose to have a three year sabbatical in a tropical paradise then we are, frankly, quite envious)
  • Do have a brief CV with everything laid out clearly and concisely over three to four pages and then have a second document where you flesh it out with more detail, particularly in your more recent roles
  • In the fuller document do demonstrate the breadth of your experience but be concise, the longer CV should ideally not be more than six pages long
  • Do think about the achievements you have had during your career and provide a concise and meaningful list of bulleted points
  • Do provide an idea of the scale of your staff and financial responsibility in each role
  • Do use Microsoft Word as the document format (if we have to grapple for fifteen minutes with a document that defiantly refuses to open without the intervention of the IT department, it does not make for a good start to our relationship with you)
  • Do leave off a front page with your name on it. We know that everyone does it and yes, it does look nice, but it is unnecessary. If just a few trees are saved every year by us not having to print that one unnecessary page, it will have been worth making you crossly switch to your document (which is in Word isn’t it?) and delete the front page
  • Do use a confidential e-mail address to communicate with us

The Don’t’s

  • Don’t have graphics or special effects on your CV. We once received a migraine-inducing CV from an outstanding individual. It had a colourful border which moved and flashed like a takeaway restaurant sign. A good CV could be passed over because of such clutter
  • Don’t leave off the early part of your career, so you moved 10 times between the age of 24 and 30, you are not alone. If information appears to be missing, we get paranoid
  • Don’t use obscure or ancient computer formats. The recipient of your CV is under pressure. When the message ‘unknown format’ comes up, it is severely frowned upon. Microsoft Word is the way to go.
  • Don’t password protect your document and expect us to phone you for the password. Use a confidential e-mail address which you can get on the internet

Once you are on our confidential database we will be able to match you up with potential opportunities as they arise.

Don’t be offended if you are not invited for a face-to-face meeting with us. Keep in mind that as an Executive Search Firm we are client driven. Our ability to assist you is based on the positions that we are appointed to work on. We will not take up your time (and, admittedly, ours) and meet with you unless we have a definite role that we would like to discuss with you. We will make contact with you directly when a position arises that we feel will be suitable and of interest to you and take things from there.

Interview Tips

 

  • STAR methodology: Situation, Task, Action, Result. Questions which are best answered using this methodology will certainly appear to test your actions in certain situations. Come up with good examples from prior experiences.
  • Ask questions: make sure you have prepared a list of questions you would like to have answered.
  • Show respect: listen to your recruiter, be friendly, positive and show interest.
  • Tip: send a thank-you email after the interview. You can confirm your interest for the vacancy and say your enthusiasm for the position has increased. This will definitely distinguish you from other candidates.

Common Job Interview Questions Regardless of Industry

  1. How would you describe yourself?
  2. Describe yourself in one word.
  3. Name 3 of your strengths and weaknesses.
  4. What type of books, magazines and newspapers do you read? Which were the latest ones you read?
  5. Why did you choose your specific university?
  6. How was your transition from high school to university?
  7. Tell me more about your academic performances.
  8. How will your university education benefit your future career?
  9. Do you have any plans to continue studying, for an advanced degree for example?
  10. If given the chance, would you have done anything differently in your university career?
  11. What would you have done anything differently in your life until now?
  12. Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
  13. What makes you angry?
  14. Describe your ideal job following graduation.
  15. What career goals have you set yourself?
  16. What influenced you to choose this career path?
  17. What traits and qualifications do you have which will make you successful in this career path?
  18. Why do you want to work at our company?
  19. What do you know about our company?
  20. Why should I hire you?
  21. I can also hire someone internally in the firm. Why should I hire an external person such as you?
  22. What changes would you make in our company if I hired you?
  23. You`re standing in an elevator with your potential future boss – how would you sell yourself in 10 seconds?
  24. You are allowed to ask someone in history a single question. Who would you choose and what is your question?
  25. You are allowed to ask someone in history a single question. Who would you choose and what is your question?
  26. How many airplanes are there in the world?
  27. How would you gain the confidence of a client who has over 30 years experience?
  28. Do you prefer working alone or in a team?
  29. What is the role you adopt whilst working in a team?
  30. Tell me about a problem you faced whilst working in a team. How did you resolve the problem?
  31. How good are you at solving conflicts?
  32. What would you do if a colleague is underperforming, which is hurting you and your division as well?
  33. Are you good at dealing with stress? Give me several examples which demonstrate this.
  34. Are you willing to travel for the job?
  35. Are you willing to relocate for the job?
  36. What was the biggest challenge you ever faced?
  37. Describe a situation where you successfully convinced others of your ideas.
  38. Describe a situation where you arrived at a compromise with a colleague.
  39. Please give me some examples which show that you can adapt to a variety of people, cultures, and environments.
  40. Which areas of the world would you like to explore and why?
  41. Are you good at handling several tasks and responsibilities simultaneously?
  42. How do you determine priorities in your planning?
  43. How would your friends describe you?
  44. Have you ever considered starting your own business?
  45. Tell me more about your prior internship/job experience. How would your previous colleagues describe you?
  46. What is the most significant contribution you made in your previous company?
  47. Could you have done better in your previous job?
  48. What would you like to improve professionally about yourself?
  49. Your boss tells you in confidence that he is considering firing a colleague, who happens to be your best friend at work. How would you handle this situation?