MSC’s focus on the Bolloré Group’s activities in Africa illustrates the economic and political importance of port trade on the African continent. An opportunity that the continent’s major economic operators should have seized in order to ensure the management of their ports and keep control of their economies.
When the industrialist who owns a veritable transport empire in Africa commissioned the investment bank Morgan Stanley to study the sale of its historic logistics business on the continent, experts had mentioned a margin of 2 to 3 billion euros. But this was without taking into account the frenzy of takeovers that drives the maritime giants, always ready to control the entire logistics chain, from container ships to ports. Seen from this angle, MSC’s offer, valued at 5.7 billion euros, would be a godsend for the Bolloré group. This is also a sign of the bright future of maritime trade, which attracts a lot of interest. The port trade being a very competitive activity at the height of the stakes. 92% of the continent’s trade is carried out by water.
Departure of Bolloré, business opportunity for Africans?
No, Bolloré’s withdrawal from logistics in Africa is clearly not a business opportunity for African economic operators. Even if at the time of the announcement, we expected the candidacy of the French CMA-CGM or the Danish Maersk, we also envisaged an African candidacy; the dream being allowed. Unfortunately, nothing could be done.
5.7 billion is MSC’s offer to acquire the Africa Logistics branch of Bolloré. By giving Gianluigi Aponte the opportunity to acquire Bolloré’s fortune on their continent, African states are once again allowing a foreigner to control their economy. Whereas it would have been necessary for an African to acquire the said market. Indeed, the port being the strategic point of the country that cannot be entrusted to a third party. Because who holds the port, holds the trade, the port sector being one of the most profitable in the world.
Moreover, it demonstrates the inability of Africans to unite in a common cause. Therefore, even if one person does not have the means to buy Bolloré’s logistics empire on the continent, it would have been nice if three or four African operators had gotten together to acquire the said company, and thus make it a continental asset. Whether it is the rail network or maritime transport, it is the transit means for all operations from one country to another. So controlling the ports means controlling African trade in general.