Interview: Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi
With import and export volumes experiencing double-digit increases in recent years, how is infrastructure being developed to cope with this?
MOHAMED JUMA AL SHAMISI: When operating an international port it is important to be ahead of the game in the planning process. Our projects are designed for future expansion potential, and our expansion strategy is demand-driven. We are investing heavily in upgrading our infrastructure, implementing new technologies and procuring new equipment to expand operations to better serve our customers as part of this strategy.
Our port community system, Maqta Gateway, is a good example of technological innovation. The e-communication platform, which started initial trial operations recently, offers a single point of access to customers and other government agencies. Our achievement on truck turnaround time at Khalifa Port container terminal, which dropped to just 12 minutes, made the terminal the most efficient in the region. The implementation of Jade’s terminal operating system, Master Terminal, also offers major improvement and is set to bring productivity gains of 15-20%.
Khalifa Port has the expansion capacity to handle container volumes up to 15m twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) and 35m tonnes of general cargo per annum once all of the development phases are completed. In its current, phase-one development, Khalifa Port can handle an annual capacity of 2.5m TEUs and 12m tonnes of general cargo.
To what extent can this type of growth be sustained given slowdowns in international markets?
AL SHAMISI: Although the global economy is sluggish, we went through a far worse international crisis in 2008-09, and from there things have continued to grow steadily. Building on year-on-year growth in recent years and record annual throughput volumes in 2015 we expect to continue such growth in 2016. The resilience of Abu Dhabi’s economy plays a positive and vital role in our business, and the transshipment at Khalifa Port, which has grown dramatically due to our location and the advanced services we offer, is also an important driver of growth. Moreover, there is still high demand for strategic exports from the region, like aluminium.
The region is still in the development phase, and most of the projects are still going on as announced earlier. The major infrastructure projects in Abu Dhabi are heavily using the services of Khalifa Port. This will further boost the expansion and development of the port and the adjacent Khalifa Industrial Zone (Kizad). The Top 120 World Container Ports ranking listed Khalifa Port Container Terminal as the third-fastest-growing container port in the world and the fastest-growing port in the Middle East based on its 26% volume growth in 2014. The port experienced 32% growth in 2015. Despite the economic challenges globally it is important to focus on the enablers of growth to move us forward.
What efforts are being made to improve coordination among government organisations to address the needs of potential investors?
AL SHAMISI: In recent years there has been a push on all fronts to develop lines of infrastructure, and we are reaping the benefits. We are very fortunate that the government sees the value in the development of the maritime industry as part of the economic vision, and we are committed to supporting that vision.
Investors want one organisation to streamline their administrative processes, especially when they have to deal with various government departments. Kizad has such a system to support investors. The industrial zone provides easy access to local, regional and global markets through its unique strategic location at the centre of the UAE. The world-class infrastructure, with dedicated investor support mechanisms, makes Kizad an attractive investment destination.
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