Yilport Holding, one of the world’s most rapidly expanding port operators, is making its first African investment.

The company agreed on Wednesday to set up a joint venture with Ibis Tek, the operator of Takoradi Port, to jointly operate the Ghanaian terminal and then heavily invest in it.

“This strategic investment is a milestone for Yilport, as the company is entering the African port industry,” the Turkish company said in a press release.

Controlled by its chairman and chief executive officer Robert Yuksel Yildirim, Yilport claims to be the world’s 11th biggest port operator.

“Takoradi … will be a gemstone in our vision to rank among the top 10 global container terminal operators by 2030,” Yildirim said.

The firm has onshore logistic centres, as well as 22 port terminals in Turkey, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Sweden and across Latin America.

Speaking at an Istanbul conference last summer, Yildirim did not give away any indication of planning to expand into Africa. By contrast, he had said that his “main goal” was to widen his footprint in Canada and the US.

French logistics giant CMA CGM, in which Yildirim’s business group owns a 24% stake, is already present in Africa, through a long-term contract to operate the Lekki deepwater port in Nigeria.

The fact that Yildirim is a minority shareholder of CMA CGM, however, doesn’t prevent the two from pursuing separate, and occasionally even competing, moves in the port business.

Wide-ranging investment planned

Yilport has the upper hand in the Takoradi joint venture with a majority stake of 70%.

The company said it plans to spend more than $700m, in three phases, to build and operate a “state-of-the art port complex”.

One key goal is to expand the capacity of Takoradi’s existing container terminal to up to 2.25 million teu per year.

The plans, however, also extend to the creation of multi-purpose berths for liquid, bulk and general cargo with an annual handling capacity of about 20 million tons.

Building a tank farm and laying new access roads are also part of the future picture.

“This new deep-sea terminal will serve the West African corridor cargo in Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger,” Yilport said.

The Turkish company expects to take over operations at Takoradi in the second quarter of 2023.