Using an experienced, knowledgeable shipping agency can help South African shippers minimise the risks and complexities of shipping project and break bulk cargo to West Africa.

Delicate brewery equipment destined for West Africa loaded and handled with care onboard a specialised Safmarine MPV vessel.

So says Jorg Knuttel, managing director of Safmarine MPV, the specialist project cargo and break bulk operator to West Africa.

‘Our advice to shippers looking for reliability, flexibility and consistency when shipping their project and break bulk cargo to West Africa is to partner with companies who have a sound knowledge of African ports and conditions and who are able to offer the services that suit the market.’

Finding the right shipping partner is also key to Safmarine MPV’s growth aspirations in West Africa and one of the reasons behind the company’s recent appointment of Socopao as its full liner agent in South Africa, effective April 2013.

‘Safmarine MPV has appointed Socopao South Africa to provide a complete shipping agency service in the South African market and main ports, and to handle the MPV vessels as of April.

‘Socopao is part of Bollor’ Africa Logistics, one of the leading integrated logistics networks in Africa and a shipping agency with the knowledge, experience and presence we need to link South Africa with the rest of the continent and help us grow our and our customers’ business in this region.’

Knuttel says the combination of Safmarine MPV and Socopao’s specialised and complementary skills not only provides the market with a trustworthy, reliable product, but it will also go a long way to helping South African businesses take advantage of the many opportunities in the West African project cargo market.

‘From a project cargo perspective, South African companies have the technology, the infrastructure and the connections they need to maximise the opportunities and we see enormous potential for increasing business between South Africa and West Africa on the back of the new Safmarine MPV-Socopao South Africa partnership.’

The appointment of Socopoa as Safmarine MPV’s new liner agent also follows the decision of Danish maritime giant AP Moller-Maersk Group to establish Antwerp-based Safmarine MPV as an independent business unit with its own, separate agency network.

Safmarine MPV is leaving the Maersk Line/Safmarine agency network, which will continue to represent the AP Moller-Maersk Group’s Container Business.

‘The decision to establish a separate agency network has the advantage of allowing the Maersk Line and Safmarine liner agencies to continue focusing on the container business, while Safmarine MPV focuses on project and break bulk cargoes,’ explains Knuttel.

Deploying a dedicated fleet of multipurpose vessels, Safmarine MPV connects the US, Europe and South Africa with the main oil and gas ports along the West Africa coastline. The company’s specialized multipurpose vessels are purpose-built to carry project and break bulk cargoes and are also able to load containers.