Work started last week on an $11bn megaport in Tanzania, funded by China and Oman, which the country’s president said would spark an “industrial revolution” in the east African nation.
The new port at Bagamoyo will dwarf the country’s current main port at Dar es Salaam. Dar es Salaam, approximately 75km (47 miles) to the south on the Indian Ocean coast
, is the country’s main commercial port but is over its full capacity.
President Jakaya Kikwete attended a groundbreaking ceremony and said construction of phase I of the project would take three years. “The construction of the Bagamoyo port and a special economic zone is aimed at realising the government’s goal of bringing about an industrial revolution in Tanzania,” he said.
Government officials said the port would be able to handle mega-ships – with a container vessel size of 8,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) – after the first phase was completed, with room for expansion.
Construction on phase one of the project will take three years, he added. The whole project including roads, railways and the economic zone is expected to take 10 years to complete, but it was unclear in how many phases it will be carried out.
The project - port and special economic zone - is financially backed by China Merchants Holdings
(International), China’s largest port operator, and Oman’s State General Reserve Fund. The Chinese firm will handle much of the construction work.
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% this year to 18 million tonnes.
Jianhua Hu, executive vice-president of China Merchants Holdings, said implementation of the project marked “the most significant event” in Tanzania-China relations over the past four decades.