The ports of southern Africa play a crucial role in the economy of the region. Five out of the eight commercial ports of South Africa are within the Benguela ecosystem or adjacent to it: Port Elizabeth, Mossel Bay, Cape Town, Saldanha and Ngqura (Coega).
Walvis Bay is Namibia's largest commercial port, receiving approximately 1 000 vessels each year and handling about 2.5 million tonnes of cargo. The port of Lüderitz, in southern Namibia, was primarily developed as a fishingharbour but today it serves as an important logistics base for the marine diamond mining and the petroleum industries.
Angola has three main ports: Luanda, Lobito, and Namibe. Luanda is one of the major commercial ports on the west coast of Africa and in 2006 handled an estimated five million tonnes of cargo, a 33 percent increase over the previous year. The port's main exports include petroleum, diamonds, iron ore and fish products. Major imports include iron, steel, machinery, flour and coal.
With major international shipping routes passing through the Benguela region, the threat of maritime accidents cannot be ignored as these can have an immediate and destructive impact on the marine environment and devastate coastal ecosystems, beaches and related industries such as fishing and tourism. It is for this reason that the Benguela Current Convention has a strong focus on mitigating, abating and eliminating marine pollution.