Heavy Equipment Shipping to West Africa

A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding Heavy Equipment Shipping to West Africa


A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Heavy Equipment Shipping to West Africa 

Currently, Africa happens to be one of the popular destinations for heavy equipment shipping like construction machinery. Thus, there is a wide availability of machinery shipping services from different United States ports such as Baltimore, Charleston, Jacksonville, Galveston, and New York to West Africa, including ports in Nigeria, Ghana, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Guinea, Senegal, Equatorial Guinea, Benin, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Angola, Liberia, and Namibia. 

The continent of Africa heavily depends on ports and ships for servicing its intercontinental trade accounts for approximately 2.7% of the global trade value; it contributes higher shares to global trade, which is 7% and 5% of the maritime exports and imports by volume respectively. Although almost 1/3rd of all the African countries are landlocked, maritime transport is the main gateway to the worldwide marketplace. Moreover, West Africa has strong biodiversity, rich ecology, and numerous distinct regions; thus, making when one ships heavy equipment, it becomes feasible. 

So now you know why West Africa is considered an ideal spot when it comes to heavy equipment shipping overseas. Let us see the process involved or how heavy equipment shipment is done. We will guide you and let you know things you must keep in mind to make the sailing experience smooth.

How to ship heavy equipment?

Roro heavy equipment shipping

Be it a forklift, concrete mixer, bulldozer, or paver, it is always a cumbersome process to ship heavy machinery internationally. These are some of the factors you must keep in mind when doing it: 

  • Investing in freight Insurance 

Although the law mandates many licensed transporters and cargo insurance, it only covers a particular amount of damage. If you ship high-value heavy equipment, you will realize that this mineral does not cover the entire value. Some transporters also give you the choice of purchasing more insurance from them. If you are so, many third parties are ready to offer the service. It is important to have a policy that covers any contingencies that might come up during transit.

  • Weight and dimensions 

One of the first things you must do is have a comprehensive measurement and the weight of heavy equipment you will ship. The longest dimension on each access helps you determine how the trailer you send it on needs to be where the weight plays a crucial role in what type of trailers you will use. 

  • Overseas Shipping 

The Roll-on/Roll-off (Roro)shipping can be used if your heavy equipment features wheels. To simplify the process, ramps are used for driving the equipment on and off the transport vehicle.

Often, flat rack containers are also used where the equipment is set on it. Typically, a flat rack can handle almost 90,000 pounds of weight, after which it is loaded onto transport vehicles; some specialized cases also require you to disassemble the heavy equipment.

Now, before you shop heavy equipment internationally, it is crucial to answer the following questions: 

  • Is the machine free of dirt or contamination that might get it rejected and cost you a fortune?
  • Do you know the method of transporting the item to the port from where it has to leave?
  • Do you possess all the relevant documents so no issues arise during the Customs clearance on arrival?
  • Do you know the port formalities and requirements of the port you are shipping your item to?

The next thing that everyone must know is the heavy equipment shipping rates. But, before that, let us talk about the different methods of shipping. 

Different Methods of Shipping

  • Roll on/Roll off (RoRo) Methods

One of the popular forms of transport for heavy equipment deliveries made to a foreign country is the RoRo method. In this method, a flatbed ship hauls heavy equipment like industrial machinery and motorhomes. You can ship cars, trucks, motorcycles, trailers, semi-trailer trucks, and similar items. 

Having said that, you must know there are some height and weight restrictions with this method. However, suppose you want the cost of shipping heavy equipment overseas to be on an economic side. In that case, RoRo also happens to be an affordable transport option and thus considered the cheapest way to ship heavy equipment.

  • Flat Rack Shipping Heavy Haulers

With this method, you can deliver your boats and other pieces of heavy equipment loaded on a flat rack secured to a ship. As the cost to ship heavy equipment is minimal and the method’s ability to ship a broad range of cargo, most people favour this open-air method. 

  • Container Shipping
Container Shipping


If your cargo fits into a large container, container shipping is an ideal choice. It provides your heavy machinery an additional layer of protection against weather conditions.

Several different types of containers can be used for this type of shipping based on the type and size of the vehicle being shipped. The 53- foot container is the most common type of containerized vehicle shipping. It can even accommodate even the biggest of cars like RVs and buses. 

  • Lift-On/Lift-Off (LoLo)
LoLo Shipping


The LoLo method is ideally used to ship farm equipment, inoperable vehicles, engines, and other forms of heavy equipment. In this method, a crane or any other cargo handling device is responsible for lifting your cargo onto a ship for transportation. Thus, this type of loading is often used for cabotage and transcontinental transport. Moreover, LoLo ships have a huge amount of space at the vessel’s top and the ship deck. 

Every type of cargo demands suitable handling; therefore, it is crucial to pay plenty of attention to how it is being carried abroad and off the ship. Now that we know the different shipping methods used by heavy equipment shipping companies let us see the cost and time it takes us, i.e., American Forwarding & Logistics, to ship heavy equipment. But before that, let us walk you through us and our services:

Who are American Forwarding & Logistics?

American Forwarding & Logistics is a US-based heavy shipment company that deals with international auto shipping, containerized cargo, and heavy equipment transport. Our specialization includes assisting businesses and individuals with international shipping requirements that originate in the United States. 

The suite of every AFL service includes every aspect of the international transport industry. This begins with instant shipping quotes and then continues with booking, document management, shipment loading, transporter, unloading, and shipment delivery. 

When you are a customer of AFL, you will have access to a holistic suite of services, so you will get a single point of contact for your international auto shipping requirements. Your agent will help you with NVOCC services, shared container shipments, notary documentation, owned container transport, private container shipments, consulting services, insurance coverage, RORO, and domestic to origin port transportation.

Cost and Time Spent for Shipping Heavy Equipment 

American Forwarding & Logistics is motivated to deliver an amazing shipping experience via its transparent quoting practices. All our agents work closely with the customer in order to identify the shipping requirements and thereby create international heavy equipment shipping quotes

Various factors impact the final price while determining the cost to ship heavy equipment overseas. Let us see what that is: 

  • Shipment Ways

When it comes to international shipping, there are usually two available options. The one you choose will directly impact the cost of shipping equipment overseas. As discussed earlier, the RoRo method is a simple and affordable technique that needs the equipment to be driven directly to the watertight vessel. The only problem with this method is that one cannot send any personal items.

Another method is container shipping, which involves a distinct procedure. The shipment gets delivered to the dock and then loaded into a shipping container. After this, the wheels are strapped to the container to avoid unwanted movement and potential damage. 

  • The Size of the Shipments

If your shipment is heavy or large, it becomes more expensive. It is because big items take up more space on the cargo ship, thus, reducing the total number of vehicles that can be loaded for overseas shipping. Loading fewer items means generating less profit. For accounting purposes, larger items are quoted at a higher rate. 

In case you want your item in a container, the cost to ship overseas will increase with the shipping container’s increasing size. Although containers are available in a wide variety of sizes, 20 and 40-foot lengths are quite common.

The heavier your item is, the more time and effort it will take to move that weight. This means more fuel is used, which ultimately means more money. 

  • The distance the shipment will Cover

When you choose a far destination, the shipping price becomes more expensive. The distance from the maritime terminal is the first distance that impacts the cost of shipping an item overseas.

One can also reduce the shipment price by bringing the vehicle to the port. However, if this is not possible, the shipping company can make arrangements. AFL offers a discounted price, thanks to its partnership with SAKAEM Logistics.

The distance between the port of origin and the destination is the second distance that impacts the shipping cost. Greater distance means more fuel consumption which ultimately leads to more shipping money. 

  • Customs Fees and Inspection Costs

Each country has its own set of fees and regulations that must be followed when arranging to ship. Some of the costs include taxes, import duties, taxes, and inspection costs. International shipping companies like AFL are well-versed in the fees imposed by different countries.

  • Insurance

As already said, your international freight shipping should always have an insurance backup. It includes overseas vehicle shipping too. The company you hire for transporting the items can factor this into the overall cost. 

Typically, there are two types of insurance- Total loss and risk insurance. The total loss insurance will cover fire, theft, or an entire loss of your possession during overseas shipping. Risk insurance offers coverage from when loading begins, throughout transit, and ends when the vehicle is unloaded at the destination. If customers decide to use our AFL inland door-to-port service with SAKAEM, your shipments will be covered by AFL until the drop of your vehicle at the port of origin.

  • Destination

The cost to ship an overseas item increases when there is a high demand for overseas shipping to your destined area. This is a bit different from the total shipping volumes of international freight shipping. 

  • Shipping Volumes

When it comes to international freight shipping, there are seasonal trends. So during peak season, the shipping cost gets higher. However, in the offseason, the shipping costs are lower and the demands are lower. 

Typically, summer shipping is more affordable than winter shipments. One can also get the shipping done if they have a requirement of shipping in the opposite direction of the high demand.

  • The Rate of Fuels

Fluctuating fuel costs are also one of the factors that impact the cost of shipping overseas. Usually, international freight carriers consider their fluctuating operational costs due to the varying fuel prices. These differences in costs are then transferred to those booking shipments with the carrier.

These factors affect the quote you will receive when you want a price for your international automobile shipment. To better understand, we have curated a heavy equipment shipping calculator table that summarises how much it costs to ship heavy equipment if you get it done from AFL. 

DistanceCostEstimated time in transit
0-200 miles$4.00 – $5.00 per mile1-3 days
200-500 miles$3.50 – $4.00 per mile2-4 days
500-1000 miles$3.00 – $3.50 per mile3-6 days
1000-1500 miles$2.50 – $3.00 per mile4-7 days
1500 – 2000 miles$2.00 – $2.50 per mile5-8 days
2000 – 2500 miles$1.50 – $2.00 per mile6-9 days
2500+ miles$1.00 – $1.50 per mile7-10 days

Is AFL worth it? 

Well, definitely yes. When you use one of the best overseas shipping companies in the USA like AFL, heavy shipping equipment is no more a hassle. You can ship anything: heavy lime caterpillar heavy equipment, bulldozers, construction tanks, Komatsu construction equipment, and many more. Apart from reliable services, we offer affordable options for all our customers. 


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