CAIRO — Egypt launched Oct. 24 a new shipping line from Ain Sokhna port to Kenya’s Mombasa port, as part of the Gosour project of Egypt’s Ministry of Public Business Sector to promote intra-Egyptian trade with African countries.
The first shipment, which departed Oct. 20 from Ain Sokhna in Suez, included 52 container ships, representing over 50% of the target for the first three months starting from the October launch of the project, the ministry said.
The ministry has provided a full range of transport and logistics services through the Gosour project, which is being implemented by the state-owned Holding Company for Maritime and Land Transport (HCMLT) and the Misr Insurance Holding Company, in a bid to open new markets for foreign trade, through a single window to deal with exporters and importers.
In an Oct. 20 speech at a conference of the Egyptian Center for Economic Studies, Minister of Public Business Sector Hisham Tawfik said that the government has been seeking to establish a marketing and brokerage company with a proposed capital of $10 million, with local banks and the private sector, as part of the Gosour project.
Tawfik explained that according to the ownership structure proposed, the public business sector would own about 24% of the company’s shares, and 20% would be divided between the National Bank of Egypt, Banque Misr and Bank of Cairo. Private sector companies and Egyptian investors would get a 56% share.
He noted that the first phase of the project includes the launch of weekly shipping services at low fares from Ain Sokhna to Mombasa, ensuring access to about 10 African countries.
Tawfik said at the opening of an Oct. 20 conference on the Governance Index in Africa, organized by the Egyptian Center for Economic Studies, “The Gosour project aims to promote foreign trade between Egypt and the countries of Central and East Africa. It also includes transport and logistics services to foreign trade customers via subsidiaries operating in the maritime and land transport, insurance and logistics fields.”
In May, the Egyptian government announced its intention to implement a huge project through the state-owned HCMLT, linking foreign trade with Africa and Europe, establishing shipping lines for the transport of goods, providing logistics services for exporters and importers to enhance intra-Egyptian trade with African and European countries, and accessing new markets to support the national economy.
This is in addition to the important role that Egypt could play as a northern gateway to African trade with European countries, as well as reviving the roll-on/roll-off line between Egyptian and European ports that was established in 2010, before it was suspended due to political instability against the backdrop of the January 25 Revolution.
Khamis Shaaban, chairman of the 6th of October Investors Association, praised the speedy implementation of the project by the government. He stressed that the Gosour project is in line with the investors association’s vision to increase Egyptian exports to the African market.
Shaaban also underlined the project’s importance in facilitating the shipping procedures and the land and maritime transports to the African continent and it includes providing transport services and logistics for foreign trade customers via subsidiaries operating in the fields of maritime and land transport, insurance and logistics.
He added that the project was highly welcomed by members of the association's board of directors, some of whom expressed their intention to pitch in the company’s capital.
In a statement to Al-Monitor, Shaaban said, “The investors association requested the Ministry of Public Business Sector to pay more attention to the internal road transport in the African countries, especially as many of these do not have seaports. In addition, the Egyptian investors want to benefit from the offices of the state-owned El-Nasr for Import and Export scattered throughout several African countries to hold a permanent exhibition of Egyptian products.”
President of the Assiut Investors Association Ali Hamza told Al-Monitor over the phone that the Gosour project would achieve a quantum leap for the Egyptian exporting companies in the Upper Egypt governorates after facilitating the delivery of goods to target markets, in addition to the possibility of setting up exhibitions to showcase Egyptian products.
He added that the establishment of an entity with the participation of the government and the private sector for the transport of goods inspires more confidence among the factory owners wishing to export to the African continent, especially since the African markets depend mostly on the available commodities on the market.
Thus, the government participation in the new entity provides a guarantee about the fate of the factories sent to African countries through the company.
Hamza called for the speedy completion of the development of the Safaga port, which is considered the closest to the Upper Egypt governorates. He also called to turn the port into a commercial one. This would present a great opportunity to facilitate the exports of Upper Egypt’s industrial zones to Africa and to import raw materials and production equipment for such zones.
Magdy Salah, professor of roads and transportation at Cairo University, told Al-Monitor that the Gosour project will provide Egypt with the possibility of importing raw materials from Africa and exporting Egyptian commodities that are not available on the African markets.
He noted that this would help increase the rate of economic growth throughout the African continent and provide distinctive services to help increase the volume of trade. Salah stressed that the Misr Insurance Holding Company is providing insurance on the goods, which gives more confidence to the companies involved in the project.
The second phase and remaining services of the Gosour project, including land cargo transport, customs clearances and storage are set to be launched in the second quarter of 2020. This will also include the establishment of a brokerage and marketing company in cooperation with the private sector.
A mobile app, Gosour, was also launched allowing users to save customer data, shipments and to receive orders.