Port Lafito: Gateway to Haitian Prosperity?

By July 18, 2015 Article, Technology No Comments

^ The Caribbean (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caribbean)

Planned Diversification

Inaugurated on July 2 this year, Port Lafito is Haiti’s first Panamax container port that promises to launch the economy of this Caribbean island nation on to a higher and faster growth trajectory. Located in the town of Lafiteau 20km north of Port-au-Prince, the port is the cornerstone of the under-development Lafito Global Economic Zone that includes a business park and a free industrial zone. The dry terminal at Port-au-Prince is a part of the project and operates from the very focus of Port-au-Prince’s long-established industrial area.

Soon, Lafito Global is expected to grow into an industrial hub for the Caribbean bringing about massive development by attracting foreign investment, creating fresh jobs, and providing training opportunities. By end-2015, promoters expect a $145million investment in a country hungry for economic development and diversification.

Haitian Economy & the Economic Importance of Ports

About 40% of Haiti’s population depends on agriculture. The economy remains exposed to shocks by Mother Nature and export markets. Its GDP grew by 4.3% and clocked $13.42billion (PPP) in 2013.

Haiti depends heavily on exports. It is the world’s primary producer of vetiver oil used in expensive perfumes. Cocoa, bananas, and mangoes are other exports. The 2010 Haiti earthquake massively jolted Haiti’s economy.

Unsurprisingly, Haiti seeks to diversify into value-added agricultural products and high-end manufacturing viz. production of transformers, sensors, and Android tablets. What better way than to invest in a port-cum-industrial-area?

Port Lafito (Source: http://gbgroup.com/2014/port-lafito-partner-manzanillo-international-terminal-ssa-marine/)

Many of the world’s major cities are port cities because ports improve market access for businesses located in their hinterlands. This stimulates the growth of such businesses thereby improving the economy and employment.

Ships handle over 90% of the globally traded cargo. Ports are the preferred choice of export-oriented manufacturers. Improved income levels in the hinterland boost spending creating demand for goods and services that further inspires production.

Increasing throughput of cargo and people via ports necessitate the creation of better infrastructure and more services and provisions in the region around the port. This further upgrades the economy and employment. And, any infrastructural progress promotes the entire economy, not just the port-using industries.

Shipping is the cheapest form of transport because it consumes the least fuel per tonne-kilometer of transported cargo. It is also the most environment-friendly, an important consideration in the present age of progressively tightening environmental regulations.

Port Lafito & Lafito Global

Infrastructure development on this scale is a novel development in Haiti. Port Lafito is the deepest and largest port in Haiti complete with a multi-purpose terminal that uses cutting edge software and equipment for handling loose-bulk and containerized cargo. Principal international carriers will call on Port Lafito each week.

The Nodal Location of Port Lafito (Source: http://gbgroup.com/2014/port-lafito-partner-manzanillo-international-terminal-ssa-marine/)

The Nodal Location of Port Lafito (Source: http://gbgroup.com/2014/port-lafito-partner-manzanillo-international-terminal-ssa-marine/)

Gilbert Bigio Group is the leading partner in the project that includes public, private, and international partnerships. Port Lafito has:

  • signed an International Sister Seaport with Miami Port to boost inter-port trade through data and idea exchanges
  • collaborated with SSA Marine, the world’s largest terminal operator, for handling port and terminal operations
  • allotted software operations to Tideworks Terminal Management Solutions
  • finalized contracts with King Ocean Services and Evergreen Marine to include Lafito as a port of call

Port Features:

  • 5m of Safe Draft
  • 450m of Berth for loading-unloading operations will expand to 900m by the end of Phase 2 in June 2016
  • Quayside Terminal of 130,000m2 (13 hectares) will expand to 260,000m2 by the end of Phase 2
  • 2 x Liebherr LHM 420 Mobile Harbor Cranes. No other port in the Caribbean possesses this equipment
  • Certified by International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) and Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT)
  • Vessel Mooring-Unmooring Services
  • Container Terminal with Reefer Services and new Container Handlers
Liebherr LHM 420 Mobile Harbor Crane   (Source: http://www.porttechnology.org/directory/liebherr_maritime_cranes/products/649)

Liebherr LHM 420 Mobile Harbor Crane
(Source: http://www.porttechnology.org/directory/liebherr_maritime_cranes/products/649)

Cargo handling equipment is the most crucial element of port operations. Port Lafito has installed two Liebherr LHM 420 mobile harbor cranes that:

  • make 30 moves per hour
  • have a 124 tons maximum load capacity with 48m maximum radius
  • allow remote wireless monitoring to facilitate rapid operations
  • are diesel powered with high energy-efficiency

Lafito Global is the first of its kind, unified economic zone in Haiti that will offer manufacturing and trading companies with flexible logistical solutions. Spread over 400hectares of oceanfront area, the zone will grow into a dominant industrial hub in the Caribbean and generate 25,000 fresh jobs in Haiti by 2020.

Located 20km north of Port-au-Prince, Lafito Global will ease pressure off the industrial area in Port-au-Prince. It is also a meager 50km from the Artibonite, Haiti’s prime agricultural valley. Well connected by roads, Lafito Global will soon be accessible via sea for local as well as international traffic.


Ports are a partly necessary but not sufficient condition for economic development. Making it a sufficient element requires building and nurturing vibrant two-way links to the hinterland and providing a facilitating economic climate. Port Lafito and Lafito might just do that.

To gain valuable insights on shipping, ports, and global trade, visit our blog. Fort Lauderdale based Kemplon Engineering is not far from Port Lafito and contributes to the maritime industry through superb marine fabrication services, marine pipe fitting, and large scale custom metal fabrication. Contact us now for more details.