FT story on the need for port privatization across Africa to boost connecting trade, especially in countries where past civil strife led to a deterioration of infrastructure.
Maputo, Mozambique is held up as shining example, thanks to privatization seven years ago, with DP World taking over 40% ownership (yes, the very same company we ran out of America on this very subject). DP also has a 60% share in the container terminal there, partnered with a railroad company.
Overall, DP runs 3 ports in Africa, a Danish company runs six, and a Hong Kong company runs one. In each instance, experienced hands are upgrading infrastructure and improving operations and--most importantly--convincing regular customers to move in.
No, privatization is no panacea, and the roads issue can still starve a port, but once you establish the potential for throughput, you trigger more demand for better roads, etc. The business will come, all right, if you give them a good reason.