Tanzania has signed a US$154m contract with China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) to expand the main port in the commercial capital of Dar es Salaam.
Under the signed contract, CHEC, a subsidiary of the state-run China Communications Construction Co, will build a roll-on, roll-off (ro-ro) terminal and deepen and strengthen seven berths at Dar es Salaam port. The project is funded by a World Bank.
Tanzania is currently seeking financing support for infrastructure projects as part of its plans to transform the country into a regional transport and trade hub.
The port currently accommodated 20-million tonnes of containers. However, Tanzania hopes to expandthe port and increase the container throughput to 28-million tonnes a year by 2020.
“Deepening and strengthening of the berths will allow big container ships to dock in Dar es Salaam,” said Makame Mbarawa, Works, Transport and Communications Minister at the signing of the contract. “All these efforts are being done in order to increase competitiveness of the port,” he added.
East Africa’s second-biggest economy wants to profit from its long coastline and upgrade its rickety railways and roads to serve the growing economies in the land-locked heart of Africa.
Big gas finds in Tanzania and oil discoveries in Kenya and Uganda have turned East Africa into an exploration hotspot for oil firms, but transport infrastructure in those countries has suffered from decades of under-investment.
In January, Tanzania is expecting to receive a US$305mn loan from the World Bank to expand its main port, where congestion and inefficiencies are hampering service delivery.
The port, whose main rival is the bigger but also congested port of Mombasa in Kenya, acts as a trade gateway for landlocked African states such as Zambia, Rwanda, Malawi, Burundi and Uganda, as well as the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to 2014 World Bank report, inefficiencies at Dar es Salaam port were costing Tanzania and its neighbors up to US$2.6bn a year.
Nonetheless, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced plans to plough US$60bn into African development projects at a summit in Johannesburg in 2015, saying it would boost agriculture, build roads, ports and railways and cancel some debt.