Tanzania has begun the construction of what it says will be the largest port in East Africa at a cost of about $11bn. Backed by China Merchants Holdings International and Oman’s State Government Reserve Fund, the project is expected to be a game changer in Tanzania’s quest to industrialize.
Officials in Tanzania believe that the construction of largest port in East Africa will not only boost the economy of the tourist town, but also put the country in good stead to compete for regional business, especially with neighbouring Kenya.
President Jakaya Kikwete who attended the ground breaking ceremony said that the construction of the Bagamoyo port and a special economic zone is geared at realising the government’s goal of bringing about an industrial tranformation in Tanzania.
It is expected that the new port will be able to handle 20 million containers annually. It will take two years to complete, and includes building rail and road links.
The construction of the port was initially slated for 2014 but has been marred with delays. Shipping agents had opposed the move saying that the port will have no significant impact for the first 20 years after its construction.
In June this year, Tanzania Shipping Agents Association said that with the current economic environment in East Africa they are skeptical that larger vessels can dock in the country in the coming 20 years.
However, Tanzanian Transport permanent Secretary Shaban Mwinjaka said all plans were in place to have the port constructed.
The construction of the Bagamoyo port in Tanzania will involve several phases. The first phase will be completed in three years’ time. Additionally, a 34km road joining Bagamoyo and Mlandizi and 65km of railway connecting the port to Tanzania’s Central Line and Tanzania-Zambia railway will be constructed.
Tanzania is East Africa’s second-biggest economy after Kenya, and cargo volumes at the existing Dar es Salaam port are expected to rise as much as 25 percent this year to 18 million tonnes.
In a move that is set to change ports scene in East Africa, Kenya’s Mombasa port is currently being upgraded and it is also constructing a hugeport at Lamu, including an oil refinery near its border with Somalia.
But, the new Bagamoyo port construction project is expected to dwarf Kenya’s port at Mombasa east Africa’s trade gateway about 300 km to the north, and aims to capitalise on growth in a region seeking to exploit new oil and gas finds.