TrainForTrade's Port Training Programme


The UNCTAD TrainForTrade Port Training Programme supports port communities in developing countries in quest for efficient and competitive port management. In order to increase trade flows and foster economic development, the programme creates port networks bringing together public, private and international entities. The aim is to share knowledge and expertise between port operators and strengthen talent management and human resources development in port communities.


Why are ports important for development?

In many developing countries, ports play a key role in connecting them to international trade. Furthermore, 80 per cent of international trade is channelled through ports. Hence, the way the maritime sector is organized has a profound impact on trade volume and transport costs, and therefore is largely affecting a country’s and businesses’ competitiveness. To stay competitive is vital to sustain and create jobs, which again affects people’s well-being directly. The trade and maritime transport sector is subject to constant regulatory changes and port officials must be able to grasp the growing complexities of port management.


Comprehensive solution oriented training adapted to local conditions

The Port Training Programme targets port managers and the main features of the programme are the following:

  • Worldwide network-based structure;
  • Public-Private-Partnership model;
  • Human Resources empowerment tool for talent management;
  • Powerful scheme to induce value-added solutions in port communities;
  • Robust methodology for knowledge sharing and ICT advancement;
  • High-end course on “Modern Port Management”.
The Modern Port Management consists of 240 hours of instruction over a two-year period. Participants must successfully complete eight modules and defend a final dissertation in order to obtain the UNCTAD Certificate in Modern Port Management. The course content is adapted to local contexts, and the the final dissertation identifies challenges within the participants’ respective ports and propose concrete management solutions.



Topics covered by the 8 modules

  1. International trade and transport
  2. Organisation of a port system
  3. Functioning of a port system
  4. Future challenges to ports
  5. Methods and tools of port management
  6. Economic and commercial management
  7. Administrative and legal management
  8. Technical management and human resources development


Local delivery creating sustainability and ownership

The Port Training Programme operates through four language-based networks (English, French, Portuguese and Spanish) in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. Training in the beneficiary ports is delivered by local instructors from the port community, supported by experts from UNCTAD and European ports associated with the program.  Senior managers from the participating ports are trained to serve as local instructors in order to ensure programme sustainability and local ownerships. The European port partners include Ghent (Belgium), Gijon and Valencia (Spain), Marseille and Dunkirk (France), Dublin and Cork (Ireland) and Leixoes (Portugal).



“TrainForTrade programme is putting ports around the world in one village where information becomes power and tools for development and modernization of our ports.”

Hebel Mwasenga (Tanzania Ports Authority)



South-South and North-South collaboration promoted

Partnerships have been developed with European ports that are sharing their knowledge and expertise through the UNCTAD Port Training Networks in Asian, African and Latin American port communities. Annual regional meetings bring together port officials from different countries, promoting sharing of experiences and expertise. South-south exchange of instructors is encouraged in order to increase instructors’ exposure to different port set-up, as well as to facilitate the transfer of knowledge.



From 1998 to 2012 in figures about

  • 900 port operators trained and certified
  • 600 senior managers trained as trainers
  • 30 national cycles in 20 countries
  • 25 workshops of for training of trainers


Best Practice in Development Cooperation

The 2008-2010 pilot phase for the English-speaking Port Training Programme, was positively evaluated by the stakeholders and by Irish Aid (the programme’s main donor). Irish’s Aid’s Review Team concluded that “the partnership between Irish Aid, Dublin Port Company, UNCTAD and the participating ports is an example of best practice in development cooperation”. In November 2011, Irish Aid signed a new agreement with UNCTAD/TrainForTrade, reaffirming the Irish government’s commitment to support the programme’s second cycle (2011-2013).


Contribution scheme

The beneficiary ports are contributing financially to the Port Training Programme. This self-sustaining aspect indicates the level of commitment and interest from the national port authorities. As an example, over the last 10 years the French network has been self-funded by the ports and by their developed-country partners. This clearly underlines the importance the port industry itself puts on TrainForTrade’s Port Training Programme.


Port Training Programme Brochure pdf EN, FR, SP   PTP
Issue in brief N°8 : pdf EN, FR   ib8


TrainForTrade Port Training Programme Video:
Impact and Successes