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List of 16 Landlocked Countries in Africa and Their Shipping Solutions

16 Landlocked Countries in Africa, with the Assisting Coastlines and Shipping Solutions

Among the 54 African countries known by the United Nations, 16 of them are landlocked. These landlocked countries have no seaports, and they depend on other neighboring countries for import and export.

Landlocked African countries have less involvement in global trade because they have no access to the sea, which also slows down their development.

Let’s look at the list of the 16 landlocked countries in Africa arranged in descending order according to land area.

1. Chad

Chad is a landlocked African country with 1,284,000 square kilometers of land area and 13,670,084 inhabitants, surrounded by six countries, including Sudan, Cameroon, Nigeria, the Central African Republic, Niger, and Libya.

The Republic of Chad has the largest land area among the 16 landlocked countries in Africa.

Shipping ports and export solutions in Chad

The seaports of surrounding countries like Sudan, Nigeria, and Cameroon facilitate the shipment of goods to and fro Chad. The shipment of goods through the bordering countries’ coastline to Chad is through rail transport, road, or sea.

A breakthrough came in 1985 when the country built a bridge that crossed the Chari River of Chad to the port of Cameroon. The bridge promoted easy exportation reducing costs and other foreign trade expenses.

Chad border has two rail terminals. The first one links the country to the ports of Port Harcourt and Lagos in Nigeria, while the second links the country to Port Sudan and Nyala across the Red Sea.

An overview of international trade in Chad

Crude oil is Chad’s primary exportation source discovered in 2003, and they ship the oil through the port terminals above. 

Chad also exports farm animals, raw cotton, and meat alongside uranium and gold to China, Portugal, and the United States, among other countries, through the same shipping solutions mentioned above.

Cameroon, the United States, and the European Union are Chad’s major import partners, and Chad imports textile, food items, and machinery from these countries. 

2. Niger

Niger is the second-largest landlocked African country located in West Africa. It has a population of 15,306,252 and a landmark of 1,267,000 square kilometers.

Seven countries are bordering Chad viz Nigeria to the east, Benin to the southwest, Algeria to the North West Libya to the northeast, Burkina Faso to the North West, Mali to the west, and Chad to the east.

Shipment and export solutions in Niger

Benin port at Cotonou, port of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, and the port of Lome in Togo provide a solution for foreign trade and shipment of Niger’s goods.

The two major bridges that cross the banks of River Niger to Niger are the Gaya Bridge and the Kennedy Bridge in Niamey. Goods shipped from other countries land in Niger stations and then transported by rail, air, or land to different locations in the country.

Primarily, Niger exports and imports goods from other countries via the Niger Bridge to Gaya station from the Port of Cotonou. Also, export takes place from the Arlit mines, where they export Uranium to France through the Cotonou’s Port.

The Nigerien Port Authority operates their tax and custom stations from the Port in Cotonou to ensure goods come straight overseas to Gaya.

These stations help solve the problem of increased tariffs and the high cost of goods while also promoting development. The stations are run by the ports authority of Niger, overseeing the country’s trade at the borders.

Abidjan, Ivory Coast already has a plan to promote trading with Niger at their ports.

3. Mali

Mali is the third-largest landlocked country in Africa, with a land area of 1,240,192 square kilometers and 14,517,176 people, and seven bordering countries, including Senegal, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Niger, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, and Mauritania.

Shipment and export solutions in Mali

Mali exports gold, iron, cotton, oil, and fertilizer to South Africa, Ivory Coast, Swaziland, Senegal, and Burkina Faso.

Still, because it is a landlocked country, foreign investors face the problems of economic crisis and delay doing business in the country. 

However, the government of Mali proffers a solution to some of their problems by offering duty-free importation to the country’s capital investment.

The government also endorsed public enterprise privatization and offered tax benefits to some industries and unrestricted repatriation of earnings and assets.

Since the country is landlocked, their major seaport is the Koulikoro river port close to Bamako on the Niger River. That notwithstanding, Abidjan Seaport in Cote d’Ivoire serves as the country’s customary shipment terminal.

4. Ethiopia

Formerly, the Federal Republic of Ethiopia is a landlocked East African country. Ethiopia has a land area of 1,104,300 square kilometers, with 101,853,268 people sharing borders with six other African countries, namely; Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, Sudan, Somalia, and South Sudan.

Shipping ports and export solutions in Ethiopia

Landlocked Ethiopia has no seaport on its own but depends on Djibouti, Port Sudan, and Somalia for importation and exportation of goods.

President Isayas Afeworki and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, in 2018, signed a contract that will stir up the shipment from Assab Port and Massawa port in Eritrea.

Earlier on, the country was also arranging to expand their routes for shipping from Berbera to Ethiopia.

Already, the country has seven dry inland ports, including Modjo and Kombolcha, Kallity, Semera, Gelan, Dire Dawa, and Mekelle. 

Traditionally, the country transports goods to these ports by rail, air, or land.

Ethiopia exports mainly leather, coffee, pulses, cut flowers, chat, and seed, while they import fuel, foodstuff, machinery, and textiles using the seaports of the countries mentioned above.

5. Zambia

Another landlocked country in Africa is Zambia, situated in the southern part of the continent with 752,612 square kilometers of land. It occupies 12,935,000 people.

It has eight neighboring countries: Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Botswana.

Shipment ports and export solutions in Zambia

Goods come into Zambia land either through the Dar es Salaam seaport in Tanzania, East London, Port Elizabeth, and Durban’s ports in South Africa, Beira and Nacala ports in Mozambique, or the Walvis Bay in Namibia.

Importation companies in Zambia distribute goods by land with trucks coming from the Namibian border through Sesheke, Zimbabwean border through Chirundu and Livingstone, Tanzanian border through Nakonde, or Botswana border through Kazungula.

6. The Central Africa Republic

Just as the name implies, the Central African Republic is a landlocked country in central Africa surrounded by Sudan, Cameroon, South Sudan, Chad, Congo, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

It has an estimated landmass of 622,984 square kilometers, with a population of 4,422,000.

Overview of import and shipment solutions in the Central African Republic

The Port of Bangui is among the major inland river ports for exporting and importing goods within the Central African Republic. 

Central African Republic imports mainly refined petroleum, second-hand clothing, medical supplies, media equipment, and petroleum gas. These products come mostly from India, followed by France, the US, China, and the Netherland through the inland river ports of the surrounding countries.

However, the country exports mainly gold to Vietnam, France, China, United Arab Emirates, and Cameroon. 

For foreign traders to successfully do import or export, they need to follow up all custom documentation and include their full name in their document.

Though the country has no seaports, containers land at the seaports of Brazaville and Kinshasa in DR Congo to the Oubangui and Congo rivers.

7. South Sudan

South Sudan, also known as Southern Sudan or officially called the Republic of South Sudan, is a landlocked country in northeast Africa.

It has six neighboring countries, including Uganda, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Ethiopia, and the Central African Republic.

Shipment and import solutions in South Sudan 

South Sudan gains access to the seaports through neighboring countries like Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to ship their goods.

The country transports shipped containers through river ports, and the major river port in South Sudan is Juba port. You can also find river ports across Renk, Malakal, Mangala, Adok, Melut, Shambe, and Bor towns.

South Sudan export gold, crude petroleum, rough wood, sawn wood, and forage crops to Spain, United Arab Emirates, China, India, and the United States.

The country, however, imports iron items, vehicles, clothing, electrical equipment, processed food, and pharmaceutical products to the United Kingdom, among other countries, via the seaports of the assisting countries.

8. Botswana

With a population of 1,990,876 and an estimated 582,000 square kilometers, Botswana is landlocked in the southern part of the continent.

The four countries that are bordering Botswana include Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, and Namibia.

Shipment and export solutions in Botswana

As a landlocked country, Botswana partners with Belgium, United Arab Emirates, Israel, South Africa, Singapore, and United Kingdom by using their seaports for import and export. They export diamonds, textiles, copper, beef, and nickel primarily through these countries’ seaports. 

India, Canada, and Namibia also help them majorly for importation.

For shipment, Botswana accesses seaports of Namibia and South Africa and then, with the help of Botswana railways, operate through dry ports across Walvis Bay, Gaborone, Palapye, and Francistown terminals.

9. Zimbabwe

With its unique history and attractions, Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in southern Africa, having a land area of 390,757 sq. km. and a population of 12,521,000. It gained its independence on 18th April 1980.

Zimbabwe’s capital is Harare, while their official currencies are the US and Real-Time Gross Settlement. Its neighboring countries are Zambia, South Africa, Mozambique, and Botswana.

Shipment and export solutions in Zimbabwe

Since Zimbabwe has no seas, it depends on its surrounding countries to export and import what they want from outside.

However, they have dry ports and harbors to transport their import and export goods to reduce costs.

The Chalala harbor, Binga harbor, port of Chiredzi, and Kariba harbors are among the ports and harbors. The country imports and distribute goods by river, air, or land to their various cities in Zimbabwe.

10. Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso is a West African landlocked country that gained its independence from France in 1960. It is bordered by Togo, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, Ghana, and Benin, with 274,222 square kilometers.

Shipping ports and export solutions in Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso, as a landlocked country, relies on the seaports of neighboring countries for foreign trade.

They mainly use Benin’s ports in Cotonou and Lome in Togo, Port of Abidjan, and Tema port in Ghana.

Yet again, Burkina Faso does most of its export using Lome’s ports, which they also share with countries like Mali and Niger. From these ports, they also transport their containers by road to various cities.

11. Uganda

Of all the 16 landlocked countries in Africa, Uganda is known for its agricultural prowess in producing tea, tobacco, and cotton. The country is also famous for its savannas, lakes, and mountains.

Uganda has a land area of 241,038 square kilometers and a population of 40,322,768. The five countries surrounding it include Tanzania, Kenya, South Sudan, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Shipping and foreign trade in Uganda

The seaports of Der-es Salaam in Tanzania and Mombasa in Kenya are the major ports that handle import and export in Uganda since they are landlocked.

Uganda exports mainly to countries in the Southern and Eastern parts of Africa, while their import comes primarily from China and India. They export primarily agricultural products, including tea, coffee, copper, cotton, and more, using Kenya and Tanzania’s seaports.

12. Malawi

The name Malawi denotes ‘fire flame,’ which it got from the fact that the country reflects a rising sun from Lake Malawi. The largest city and capital of Malawi are Lilongwe.

Malawi is a landlocked country in East Africa officially called the Republic of Malawi. It has a population of 15,028,757 and a land area of 118,484 square kilometers.

Three countries border it viz Mozambique to the east, Tanzania northeast, and Zambia to the northwest.

Export and Shipment solutions in Malawi

Malawi relies mainly on the Port of Nacala in Mozambique for import and export for import and export. They also access the ports of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and the port of Durban in South Africa for foreign exchange.

Currently, the country is making plans to create waterways to the Indian Ocean to facilitate import and export due to the high cost of transporting goods from other ports to the cities in Malawi.

13. Lesotho

The landlocked country in Southern Africa, Lesotho, got its independence from British colonization on 4th October 1966.

The total land area of Lesotho is 30,355 square kilometers and has a population of 2,067,000, and South Africa surrounds the country.

Shipment and export solutions in Lesotho

Lesotho relies on ports of their trade corridors, South Africa, for import and export. However, because they are members of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), they do not pay tariffs for export to member countries.

They export products such as tobacco, clothing, wool, and diamonds, among other products, through South Africa and the neighboring countries. They have no harbors but use rail, road, and air to transport their goods for export to other countries.

Lesotho foreign containers land at Port Elizabeth, Durban Port, and Mafeteng Port, and the owners distribute them to the cities of Lesotho via road transport.

14. Burundi 

The Republic of Burundi is a landlocked country in East Africa, occupying 27,834 square kilometers and about 10,557,259 3 people.

Three African countries border Burundi, including Tanzania, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Shipment and export solutions in Burundi

Landlocked Burundi has no coastline but operates the port, and the most popular is the Bujumbura port along Lake Tanganyika.

The country also accesses other trade corridors through Kigoma port in Tanzania, Kalemie port in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Matulungu port in Zambia.

Burundi has only road as its mode of transport and exports mainly farm products such as vegetables and coffee. Possibly in years to come, the country will build international rail networks.

15. Rwanda

In terms of land area, the 15th landlocked country in Africa is Rwanda, the Republic of Rwanda, occupying an area of 26,338 square kilometers and a population of 10,746,311 people.

Rwanda is commonly called the ‘Land of Thousand Hills’ because of its many mountains and hills.

Shipment and export solutions in Rwanda

Rwanda has no maritime claims because it is landlocked and surrounded by other countries. For export and import, they depend on Dar es Salaam ports in Tanzania and Mombasa Port in Kenya.

To remove the trade barriers of using foreign seaports, Rwanda built an inland port in Kigali, which is the Masaka Inland Container Depot (MICD). The inland port is the first dry port in East Africa.

16. Eswatini (Swaziland)

Eswatini, sometimes spelled eSwatini and officially called the Republic of Eswatini, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa.

It shares a border with South Africa and Mozambique, occupying 17,364 square kilometers, and has 1,185,000 populations. The majority of its population speaks their official language, which is English and Swati.

Shipment and export solutions in eSwatini

Eswatini uses other trade corridors, especially the Maputo Port in Mozambique and the Durban Port in South Africa, for import and export.

Also, the country built a dry port (Matsapha very close to Manzini) to help reduce the high cost of exporting and importing goods within the country, thereby clearing their consignments. 

Name the 16 landlocked countries in Africa?

The 16 landlocked African countries include; Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Uganda, Malawi, Swaziland, Mali, South Sudan, Zambia, Rwanda, and Botswana.

How many countries in Africa are landlocked?

Out of the 54 countries in Africa, 16 of them are landlocked. Of the 16 landlocked countries, 14 have low ranks on the human development index (HDI).

The landlocked African country with the most population is Ethiopia, while the smallest landlocked country with a minor population in Africa is Eswatini. The largest landlocked African country is Chad.

What are the 15 landlocked countries in Europe?

There are 15 landlocked countries in Europe: Vatican City, Macedonia, Austria, Switzerland, Belarus, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, San Marino, Serbia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg Moldova, and Andorra.

Final words

A country is landlocked if it has no connections to the seaport, with various land surrounding it. Of the 49 landlocked countries globally, 16 are in Africa, making it the highest landlocked continent.

The land is their primary transportation means, and they have no access to the sea, thus depending solely on neighboring countries to distribute goods to other countries of the world.

A practical solution to the landlocked problem in Africa is to provide shipping solutions that will facilitate the shipment of goods (import and export) from other countries worldwide.

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