Ivory Coast Table of Contents
Côte d'Ivoire has no natural, sheltered deepwater harbors. Until 1950 all imports had to be offloaded at sea onto lighters that either crossed the surf and landed on a beach or, as at GrandBassam and Sassandra, unloaded at a wharf that extended beyond the surf. In 1950 the 2.7-kilometer Vridi Canal, which cut through the barrier island south of Abidjan, was completed, linking the Gulf of Guinea with the Ebrié Lagoon. Until port facilities at Abidjan were completed, lighters were still required to unload cargo, but by 1955 all port operations were handled at dockside.
By the 1970s, Abidjan was the largest port in West Africa. The amount of cargo handled grew from 5 million tons in 1970 to 9.5 million tons in 1986, a large proportion of which was containerized. Abidjan had 5,485 meters of quays representing 35 berths, 105,000 square meters of warehouse space, a quay with refrigeration installations for the fishing industry, and twelve specialized quays for bananas, fish, timber, cement, hydrocarbons, tankers, and roll-on roll-off cargo operations. In 1987 the government enlarged the Abidjan port, adding two new quays in Locodjo across the lagoon from the city.
To stimulate development in the southwest and reduce the cost of transporting raw materials to Abidjan, the government constructed a second deepwater port at San-Pédro. The San-Pédro project, which represented a major governmental effort to exploit the timber, cocoa, coffee, rubber, and palm oil production planned for the southwest and the iron ore mines farther north, included road building and development of an urban infrastructure. The port with two large quays began operating in 1971, but because the iron ore project was dropped and timber production for the region was less than the amount anticipated, the San-Pédro port handled far less than its planned capacity. In 1984 cargo amounted to approximately 1.3 million tons, or 14 percent of all maritime commerce. In 1984 Abidjan and San-Pédro handled a total of 9.7 million tons of cargo.
Côte d'Ivoire had two merchant marine companies flying the national flag: SITRAM and the Ivoirian Maritime Navigation Company (Société Ivoirienne de Navigation Maritime--SIVOMAR), with a combined total of twenty cargo ships. The former company was state owned; the latter was privately owned.
Data as of November 1988