MSC, the new logistics transport giant in West Africa

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World number one in maritime transport, the Italian-Swiss MSC will take over the subsidiary Bolloré Africa Logistics, of the Vincent Bolloré group, for 5.7 billion euros. MSC, managed by the family of its founder Gianluigi Aponte, was looking to develop its African network.

It would be an insult to Gianluigi Aponte’s intelligence to claim that he owes his fortune to his in-laws. However, it was thanks to the capital provided by Rafaela, his wife, the daughter of a Swiss banker, that the young captain Aponte bought his first freighter in 1969.

This son of an Italian sailor who had lived in Somalia then embarked on the shipping adventure before taking the turn of container ships in the 1980s. It was then that the Italian-Swiss group Mediterranean Shipping Company acquired a global dimension.

► Read also: Bolloré sells its logistics activities in Africa to the shipowner MSC

Now, it handles 21.5 million containers every year in more than 40 ports around the world. This family business, with carefully protected capital, is also very popular with French leaders. Emmanuel Macron’s right-hand man, Alexis Kohler, is linked to the Aponte family. He is also suspected of collusion of interest with the MSC group.

However, this proximity is seen by Paris as an asset to preserve business positions and good relations with African leaders. For its part, MSC, very present in land transport in Africa through its subsidiary Medlog and its 650 trucks, has been strengthening its port assets for several years.

Quasi-monopoly situation in Lomé

But if all the clearances are secured and the acquisition of Bolloré Africa Logistics materializes, MSC will become a giant in West Africa, reports our correspondent in Abidjan, pierre pinto. In Côte d’Ivoire, Bolloré operates the first container terminal in the autonomous port of Abidjan. And soon the second, in consortium with its partner APM Terminals, port subsidiary of the Danish Maersk.

This second terminal, which should be operational within a few months, will give the port of Abidjan another dimension that will allow it to compete with its neighbors in the region: Téma in Ghana, where Bolloré is also well established, but above all Lomé or Lagos, whose The French share the port with the Chinese from China Merchants Ports, the Italians from Grimaldi and Maersk in particular.

It is really the end of an era in which there was also a political rent given the proximity of the African powers to the powers in Paris.

Antoine Glaser, journalist and author of several books on relations between France and Africa

In Lomé, by taking over Bolloré’s activities, MSC, which had established its continental hub in Togo, will find itself in a situation of virtual monopoly in container traffic. Still in the region, MSC is already established in San Pedro, in western Côte d’Ivoire, a port of departure for Ivorian raw materials and a gateway for certain inland countries.

Beyond ports, MSC will also serve landlocked countries in the sub-region. First thanks to the Sitarail. This subsidiary of Bolloré connects Abidjan with Ouagadougou by rail through Bobo-Dioulasso. Before Covid-19, it transported 200,000 passengers and 900,000 tons of merchandise per year. The Italian-Swiss group can also count on several dry ports: three in Bamako and one in Kayes, Mali, two in Ouagadougou and one in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso.

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